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Ma, W. J.; Kim, I. Jong; Yu, J. Q.; Choi, Il Woo; Singh, P. K.; Lee, Hwang Woon; Sung, Jae Hee; Lee, Seong Ku; Lin, C.; Liao, Q.; Zhu, J. G.; Lu, H. Y.; Liu, B.; Wang, H. Y.; Xu, R. F.; He, X. T.; Chen, J. E.; Zepf, M.; Schreiber, J.; Yan, X. Q.; Nam, Chang Hee (2019): Laser Acceleration of Highly Energetic Carbon Ions Using a Double-Layer Target Composed of Slightly Underdense Plasma and Ultrathin Foil. In: Physical Review Letters, Vol. 122, No. 1, 014803
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We report the experimental generation of highly energetic carbon ions up to 48 MeV per nucleon by shooting double-layer targets composed of well-controlled slightly underdense plasma and ultrathin foils with ultraintense femtosecond laser pulses. Particle-in-cell simulations reveal that carbon ions are ejected from the ultrathin foils due to radiation pressure and then accelerated in an enhanced sheath field established by the superponderomotive electron flow. Such a cascaded acceleration is especially suited for heavy ion acceleration with femtosecond laser pulses. The breakthrough of heavy ion energy up to many tens of MeV/u at a high repetition rate would be able to trigger significant advances in nuclear physics, high energy density physics, and medical physics.