One of the major goals of research for laser-plasma accelerators1 is the realization of compact sources of femtosecond X-rays2,3,4. In particular, using the modest electron energies obtained with existing laser systems, Compton scattering a photon beam off a relativistic electron bunch has been proposed as a source of high-energy and high-brightness photons. However, laser-plasma based approaches to Compton scattering have not, to date, produced X-rays above 1 keV. Here, we present a simple and compact scheme for a Compton source based on the combination of a laser-plasma accelerator and a plasma mirror. This approach is used to produce a broadband spectrum of X-rays extending up to hundreds of keV and with a 10,000-fold increase in brightness over Compton X-ray sources based on conventional accelerators5,6. We anticipate that this technique will lead to compact, high-repetition-rate sources of ultrafast (femtosecond), tunable (X- through gamma-ray) and low-divergence (∼1°) photons from source sizes on the order of a micrometre.
Subscribe to Journal
Get full journal access for 1 year
only $14.08 per issue
All prices are NET prices.
VAT will be added later in the checkout.
Rent or Buy article
Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.
All prices are NET prices.
Esarey, E., Schroeder, C. B. & Leemans, W. P. Physics of laser-driven plasma-based accelerators. Rev. Mod. Phys. 81, 1229–1285 (2009).
Rousse, A. et al. Production of a keV X-ray beam from synchrotron radiation in relativistic laser-plasma interaction. Phys. Rev. Lett. 93, 135005 (2004).
Kneip, S. et al. Bright spatially coherent synchrotron X-rays from a table-top source. Nature Phys. 6, 980–983 (2010).
Cipiccia, S. et al. Gamma-rays from harmonically resonant betatron oscillations in a plasma wake. Nature Phys. 7, 867–871 (2011).
Schoenlein, R. W. et al. Femtosecond X-ray pulses at 0.4 Å generated by 90 Thomson scattering: a tool for probing the structural dynamics of materials. Science 274, 236–238 (1996).
Albert, F. et al. Characterization and applications of a tunable, laser-based, MeV-class Compton-scattering gamma-ray source. Phys. Rev. ST Accel. Beams 13, 070704 (2010).
Hartemann, F. V. High Field Electrodynamics (CRC Press, 2001).
Catravas, P., Esarey, E. & Leemans, W. P. Femtosecond X-rays from Thomson scattering using laser wakefield accelerators. Meas. Sci. Technol. 12, 1828–1834 (2001).
Hartemann, F. V. et al. Compton scattering X-ray sources driven by laser wakefield acceleration. Phys. Rev. ST Accel. Beams 10, 011301 (2007).
Schwoerer, H., Liesfeld, B., Schlenvoigt, H-P., Amthor, K-U. & Sauerbrey, R. Thomson-backscattered X-rays from laser-accelerated electrons. Phys. Rev. Lett. 96, 014802 (2006).
Kapteyn, H. C., Murnane, M. M., Szoke, A. & Falcone, R. W. Prepulse energy suppression for high-energy ultrashort pulses using self-induced plasma shuttering. Opt. Lett. 16, 490–492 (1991).
Doumy G. et al. Complete characterization of a plasma mirror for the production of high-contrast ultraintense laser pulses. Phys. Rev. E 69, 026402 (2004).
Malka, V. et al. Electron acceleration by a wake field forced by an intense ultrashort laser pulse. Science 298, 1596–1600 (2002).
Jackson, J. D. Classical Electrodynamics (Wiley, 1975).
Wilkins, S. W., Gureyev, T. E., Gao, D., Pogany, A. & Stevenson, A. Nature 384, 335–338 (1996).
Shah, R. C. et al. Coherence-based transverse measurement of synchrotron X-ray radiation from relativistic laser–plasma interaction and laser-accelerated electrons. Phys. Rev. E 74, 045401 (2006).
Born, M. & Wolf, E. Principles of Optics 6th edn (Pergamon Press, 1980).
Ta Phuoc, K. et al. Imaging electron trajectories in a laser-wakefield cavity using betatron X-ray radiation. Phys. Rev. Lett. 97, 225002 (2006).
Faure, J. et al. Controlled injection and acceleration of electrons in plasma wakefields by colliding laser pulses. Nature 444, 737–739 (2006).
Rechatin, C. et al. Controlling the phase-space volume of injected electrons in a laser-plasma accelerator. Phys. Rev. Lett. 102, 164801 (2009).
Lundh, O. et al. Few femtosecond, few kiloampere electron bunch produced by a laser plasma accelerator. Nature Phys. 7, 219–222 (2011).
Faure, J. et al. Injection and acceleration of quasimonoenergetic relativistic electron beams using density gradients at the edges of a plasma channel. Phys. Plasmas 17, 083107 (2010).
The authors acknowledge the European Research Council for support through the PARIS ERC project (contract no. 226424). The authors acknowledge LOA technical staff for experimental assistance.
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
About this article
Cite this article
Ta Phuoc, K., Corde, S., Thaury, C. et al. All-optical Compton gamma-ray source. Nature Photon 6, 308–311 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1038/nphoton.2012.82
Plasma Science and Technology (2021)
High Power Laser Science and Engineering (2021)
Applied Sciences (2021)
Physica Medica (2021)
Generalized superradiance for producing broadband coherent radiation with transversely modulated arbitrarily diluted bunches
Nature Physics (2021)