A recent example is an experiment using Vulcan in Target Area West to further investigate the X-ray emissions from targeting a high-power laser at silver and tin foils made of just a hairs width of material. This experiment will help guide future research into areas such as inertial confinement fusion, deep X-ray imaging and laboratory astrophysics.
When most thin metal foils are targeted by Vulcan's high power laser beam, the targets undergo an interesting process where the atoms in the metal interact with the laser beam's photons to become ions (which is aptly named photoionization).
During this process, the thin metal foil target becomes a plasma (a “soup" of ions and electrons), and the result is that it emits x-rays. Materials that have this property are referred to as laser-driven plasma X-ray sources and are important in research into inertial confinement fusion, laboratory astrophysics, warm dense matter, and plasma diagnostics.
Researchers from Queen's University Belfast, Imperial College London, and AWE recently used Vulcan's high power laser capabilities to target thin silver and tin foils that were coated in parylene substrate and measured the resulting X-rays to determine the optimum sizes for maximum X-ray production. The scientists found that there was a higher laser to X-ray conversion yield for silver than tin, which is an important result for the planning of future experiments in this research field.
If you want to know more, click here to read the paper.