Laser-accelerated ion beams can be used in many applications and, especially, to initiate nuclear reactions out of thermal equilibrium. We have experimentally studied aneutronic fusion reactions induced by protons accelerated by the Target Normal Sheath Acceleration mechanism, colliding with a boron target. Such experiments require a rigorous method to identify the reaction products (alpha particles) collected in detectors among a few other ion species such as protons or carbon ions, for example. CR-39 track detectors are widely used because they are mostly sensitive to ions and their efficiency is near 100%. We present a complete calibration of CR-39 track detector for protons, alpha particles, and carbon ions. We give measurements of their track diameters for energy ranging from hundreds of keV to a few MeV and for etching times between 1 and 8 h. We used these results to identify alpha particles in our experiments on proton-boron fusion reactions initiated by laser-accelerated protons. We show that their number clearly increases when the boron fuel is preformed in a plasma state.
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