When a droplet of tin is hit with a high-intensity laser beam, the light turns parts of the droplet into a hot plasma, which emits both light and a myriad particles. ARCNL studies this plasma formation on different timescales. The aim is to find out what processes take place and how these processes result in the broad range of light and particles typically emitted by these EUV sources.
Extremely short laser pulses are used with lengths of femtoseconds (one millionth of a billionth of a second) to discriminate between the different processes in time. With these pulses the plasma can be hit much faster than the timescales of most physical processes taking place. After this kick, it is a matter of waiting and seeing what happens. For example, using this approach the heating and cooling of electrons and ions in the plasma can be observed.
ARCNL aims to gain a fundamental understanding of the processes occurring in the metal/plasma. This may make it easier to control some of the processes that occur during plasma formation. One of the possibilities being studied is the introduction of dielectric and topographical differences in the tin droplet.