Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Energy doubling of 42 GeV electrons in a metre-scale plasma wakefield accelerator

Abstract

The energy frontier of particle physics is several trillion electron volts, but colliders capable of reaching this regime (such as the Large Hadron Collider and the International Linear Collider) are costly and time-consuming to build; it is therefore important to explore new methods of accelerating particles to high energies. Plasma-based accelerators are particularly attractive because they are capable of producing accelerating fields that are orders of magnitude larger than those used in conventional colliders1,2,3. In these accelerators, a drive beam (either laser or particle) produces a plasma wave (wakefield) that accelerates charged particles4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11. The ultimate utility of plasma accelerators will depend on sustaining ultrahigh accelerating fields over a substantial length to achieve a significant energy gain. Here we show that an energy gain of more than 42 GeV is achieved in a plasma wakefield accelerator of 85 cm length, driven by a 42 GeV electron beam at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC). The results are in excellent agreement with the predictions of three-dimensional particle-in-cell simulations. Most of the beam electrons lose energy to the plasma wave, but some electrons in the back of the same beam pulse are accelerated with a field of 52 GV m-1. This effectively doubles their energy, producing the energy gain of the 3-km-long SLAC accelerator in less than a metre for a small fraction of the electrons in the injected bunch. This is an important step towards demonstrating the viability of plasma accelerators for high-energy physics applications.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Relevant articles

Open Access articles citing this article.

Access options

Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

$32.00

All prices are NET prices.

Figure 1: Schematic of the experimental set-up.
Figure 2: Energy spectrum of the electrons.
Figure 3: Simulation of the experiment using the code QuickPIC.

References

  1. Tajima, T. & Dawson, J. M. Laser electron accelerator. Phys. Rev. Lett. 43, 267–270 (1979)

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  2. Chen, P. et al. Acceleration of electrons by the interaction of a bunched electron beam with a plasma. Phys. Rev. Lett. 54, 693–696 (1985)

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  3. Joshi, C. et al. Ultrahigh gradient particle acceleration by intense laser-driven plasma density waves. Nature 311, 525–529 (1984)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  4. Modena, A. et al. Electron acceleration from the breaking of relativistic plasma waves. Nature 377, 606–608 (1995)

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. Gordon, D. et al. Observation of electron energies beyond the linear dephasing limit from a laser-excited relativistic plasma wave. Phys. Rev. Lett. 80, 2133–2136 (1998)

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  6. Umstadter, D. et al. Nonlinear optics in relativistic plasmas and laser wake field acceleration of electrons. Science 273, 472–475 (1996)

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  7. Mangles, S. P. D. et al. Monoenergetic beams of relativistic electrons from intense laser–plasma interactions. Nature 431, 535–538 (2004)

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  8. Geddes, C. G. R. et al. High-quality electron beams from a laser wakefield accelerator using plasma-channel guiding. Nature 431, 538–541 (2004)

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  9. Faure, J. et al. A laser–plasma accelerator producing monoenergetic electron beams. Nature 431, 541–544 (2004)

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  10. Barov, N. et al. Propagation of short electron pulses in a plasma channel. Phys. Rev. Lett. 80, 81–84 (1998)

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  11. Hogan, M. J. et al. Multi-GeV energy gain in a plasma-wakefield accelerator. Phys. Rev. Lett. 95, 054802 (2005)

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  12. Katsouleas, T. Physical mechanisms in the plasma wake-field accelerator. Phys. Rev. A. 33, 2056–2064 (1986)

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  13. Bruhwiler, D. et al. Particle-in-cell simulations of tunneling ionization effects in plasma-based accelerators. Phys. Plasmas 10, 2022–2030 (2003)

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  14. Rosenzweig, J. B. et al. Acceleration and focusing of electrons in two-dimensional nonlinear plasma wake fields. Phys. Rev. A. 44, R6189–R6192 (1991)

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  15. Clayton, C. E. et al. Transverse envelope dynamics of a 28.5-GeV electron beam in a long plasma. Phys. Rev. Lett. 88, 154801 (2002)

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  16. Dodd, E. S. et al. Hosing and sloshing of short-pulse GeV-class wakefield drivers. Phys. Rev. Lett. 88, 125001 (2002)

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  17. Bane, K. L. F. & Emma, P. LiTrack: a fast longitudinal phase space tracking code with graphical user interface. Stanford Linear Accelerator Center Report No. SLAC-PUB-11035 (SLAC, Menlo Park, California, 2005)

  18. Huang, C. et al. QUICKPIC: A highly efficient particle-in-cell code for modeling wakefield acceleration in plasmas. J. Comput. Phys. 217, 658–679 (2006)

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  19. Johnson, D. K. et al. Positron production by X rays emitted by betatron motion in a plasma wiggler. Phys. Rev. Lett. 97, 175003 (2006)

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  20. Krejcik, P. et al. Commissioning of the SPPS linac bunch compressor. Proceedings of the Particle Accelerator Conference (12–16 May, 2003, Portland, Oregon) 423–425 (IEEE, Piscataway, New Jersey, 2003)

  21. Muggli, P. et al. Photo-ionized lithium source for plasma accelerator applications. IEEE Trans. Plasma Sci. 27, 791–799 (1999)

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  22. Ammosov, M. V. et al. Tunnel ionization of complex atoms and of atomic ions in an alternating electromagnetic field. Sov. Phys. JETP 64, 1191–1194 (1986)

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

This work was supported by the US Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Chandrashekhar Joshi.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

Reprints and permissions information is available at www.nature.com/reprints. The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Supplementary information

Supplementary Discussion

This file contains Supplementary Discussion of why the defocusing forces arise later in time and how they affect the accelerating electrons and Supplementary Figures 1-4 with Legends. (PDF 1370 kb)

Supplementary Movie

This file contains a movie from a 3D simulation showing the evolution of the density of plasma electrons (left pane in Movie) and of the density of beam electrons (right pane in Movie) as the beam propagates through 97cm of initially neutral lithium vapour. Head erosion and phase mixing are evident (MOV 4895 kb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Blumenfeld, I., Clayton, C., Decker, FJ. et al. Energy doubling of 42 GeV electrons in a metre-scale plasma wakefield accelerator. Nature 445, 741–744 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature05538

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/nature05538

This article is cited by

Comments

By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.

Search

Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing