The spatial distribution of protons, accelerated by intense femtosecond laser pulses interacting with thin target foils under oblique irradiation are investigated. Under certain conditions, the proton beams are directed away from the target normal. This deviation is towards the laser forward direction, with an angle that increases with the level and duration of the amplified spontaneous emission pedestal before the main laser pulse. In addition, for a given laser pulse, this beam deviation increases with proton energy. The observations are discussed in terms of different electron acceleration mechanisms and target normal sheath acceleration, in combination with a laser-controllable shock wave locally deforming the target rear surface.
- laser pulse