Preparation and characterization of nanometer-thin freestanding polymer foils for laser-ion acceleration
We report on the production and characterization of polymer-based ultra-thin (sub 10 nm) foils suited for experiments on laser-ion acceleration in the regime of radiation pressure acceleration. Beside the remarkable mechanical stability compared with commonly used diamond-like-carbon foils, a very homogeneous layer thickness and a small surface roughness have been achieved. We describe the technical issues of the production process as well as detailed studies of the mechanical stability and surface roughness tests. The capability of producing uniform targets of large area is essential for advanced laser-ion acceleration projects which are dealing with high repetition rate and extended measurement series, but might also be useful for other applications which require ultra-thin and freestanding substrates of high quality.