Stable generation of GeV-class electron beams from self-guided laser–plasma channels

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Abstract

Table-top laser-driven plasma accelerators are gaining attention for their potential use in miniaturizing future high-energy accelerators. By irradiating gas jet targets with ultrashort intense laser pulses, the generation of quasimonoenergetic electron beams was recently observed. Currently, the stability of beam generation and the ability to scale to higher electron beam energies are critical issues for practical laser acceleration. Here, we demonstrate the first generation of stable GeV-class electron beams from stable few-millimetre-long plasma channels in a self-guided wakefield acceleration process. As primary evidence of the laser wakefield acceleration in a bubble regime, we observed a boost of both the electron beam energy and quality by reducing the plasma density and increasing the plasma length in a 1-cm-long gas jet. Subsequent three-dimensional simulations show the possibility of achieving even higher electron beam energies by minimizing plasma bubble elongation, and we anticipate dramatic increases in beam energy and quality in the near future. This will pave the way towards ultracompact, all-optical electron beam accelerators and their applications in science, technology and medicine.

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Figure 1: Schematic of the laser wakefield acceleration experiment.
Figure 2: Energy scaling of quasimonoenergetic electron beams.
Figure 3: Stable multi-hundred-MeV quasimonoenergetic electron beams.
Figure 4: GeV-class quasimonoenergetic electron beams.
Figure 5: Three-dimensional PIC simulation results using the VORPAL code.

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Acknowledgements

We thank S.W. Kang for his technical support during the experiment. We acknowledge useful discussions with H.T. Kim, Y.C. Noh, H. Kotaki, M. Uesaka, K. Nakajima and T. Tajima. This work was supported by the Ministry of Knowledge and Economy of Korea through the Ultrashort Quantum Beam Facility Program.

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Correspondence to Jongmin Lee.

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Hafz, N., Jeong, T., Choi, I. et al. Stable generation of GeV-class electron beams from self-guided laser–plasma channels. Nature Photon 2, 571–577 (2008) doi:10.1038/nphoton.2008.155

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