The structural stability of the laser/plasma interaction is discussed, for the case of a linearly polarized laser beam interacting with a solid at normal incidence. Using a semi-analytical cold fluid model, the dynamics of the electron plasma boundary (EPB), usually related to the high-order harmonic generation and laser absorption, are presented. While the well-known J × B plasma oscillations at two times the laser frequency are recovered by the model, several other periodic in time stable solutions exist for exactly the same value of the physical parameters. This novel behavior highlights the importance of the laser pulse history among other factors. Some important features, such as the synchronization between the incident laser and the EPB oscillation, depend on the solution under consideration. A description of the possible types of stable oscillations in a parametric plane involving plasma density and laser amplitude is presented. The semi-analytical model is compared with particle-in-cell and semi-Lagrangian Vlasov simulations. They show that, among all the stable solutions, the plasma preferentially evolves to a state with the EPB oscillating twice faster than the laser. The effect of the plasma temperature and the existence of a ramp in the ion density profile are also discussed.

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