Abstract We report our recent progress using a high-power, picosecond CO 2 laser for Thomson scattering and ion acceleration experiments. These experiments capitalize on certain advantages of long-wavelength CO 2 lasers, such as their high number of photons per energy unit and beneficial wavelength- scaling of the electrons' ponderomotive energy and critical plasma frequency. High X-ray fluxes produced in the interactions of the counter-propagating laser- and electron-beams for obtaining single-shot, high-contrast images of biological objects. The laser, focused on a hydrogen jet, generated a monoenergetic proton beam via the radiation-pressure mechanism. The energy of protons produced by this method scales linearly with the laser's intensity. We present a plan for scaling the process into the range of 100- MeV proton energy via upgrading the CO 2 laser. This development will enable an advance to the laser-driven proton cancer therapy. © 2011 American Institute of Physics.
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