Previous studies have shown that adding a section of critical density plasma on the front surface of solid target can effectively improve the laser energy absorption efficiency. Here, we have investigated laser–plasma interactions with different scale lengths of plasma in front of the target created by a pre-ablation laser pulse. A variety of experimental diagnostics employed together with particle-in-cell simulations give us deep insight into these processes. We found that the laser-induced electromagnetic pulse (EMP) intensity inside the target chamber and the target normal sheath acceleration sheath field accelerated protons were promoted using pre-plasma. The transient current due to hot electron emissions is considered to be one of the main radiation sources of EMP emissions within our measurement bandwidth. In our experiment, this current was guided to a grounded conductive wire attached to the rear surface of the target and measured by proton dynamic imaging technique. The discharging currents together with the guided fields were enhanced more than twice. The reflection spectra of experiments and simulations are compared, which reveal that the energy absorption efficiency was increased with proper plasma scale length, resulting in all the measured signals promoted.

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