Snapshots of laser wakefields

Abstract

Tabletop plasma accelerators can now produce GeV-range electron beams1,2,3,4,5 and femtosecond X-ray pulses6, providing compact radiation sources for medicine, nuclear engineering, materials science and high-energy physics7. In these accelerators, electrons surf on electric fields exceeding 100 GeV m−1, which is more than 1,000 times stronger than achievable in conventional accelerators. These fields are generated within plasma structures (such as Langmuir waves8 or electron density ‘bubbles’9) propagating near light speed behind laser2,3,4 or charged-particle5 driving pulses. Here, we demonstrate single-shot visualization of laser-wakefield accelerator structures for the first time. Our ‘snapshots’ capture the evolution of multiple wake periods, detect structure variations as laser–plasma parameters change, and resolve wavefront curvature; features never previously observed.

Access optionsAccess options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

from$8.99

All prices are NET prices.

Figure 1: Experimental setup for FDH of laser wakefields.
Figure 2: Small-amplitude wakes with flat wavefronts.
Figure 3: Strongly driven wake with curved wavefronts.
Figure 4: Axial lineouts of ionization front and wake oscillations.

References

  1. 1

    Leemans, W. P. et al. GeV electron beams from a centimetre-scale accelerator. Nature Phys. 2, 696–699 (2006).

  2. 2

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

  3. 3

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

  4. 4

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

  5. 5

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

  6. 6

    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).

  7. 7

    Malka, V., Faure, J., Glinec, Y. & Lifschitz, A. F. Laser plasma accelerators: a new tool for science and for the society. Plasma Phys. Control. Fusion 47, B481–B490 (2005).

  8. 8

    Tajima, T. & Dawson, J. M. A laser plasma accelerator. Phys. Rev. Lett. 43, 267–270 (1979).

  9. 9

    Pukhov, A. & Meyer-ter-Vehn, J. Laser wakefield acceleration: the highly nonlinear broken-wave regime. Appl. Phys. B 74, 355–361 (2002).

  10. 10

    Siders, C. W. et al. Laser wakefield excitation and measurement by femtosecond longitudinal interferometry. Phys. Rev. Lett. 76, 3570–3573 (1996).

  11. 11

    Marques, J.-R. et al. Laser wakefield: experimental studies of nonlinear radial oscillations. Phys. Plasmas 10, 1124–1134 (1998).

  12. 12

    Takahashi, E. et al. Observation of spatial asymmetry of THz oscillating electron plasma wave in a laser wakefield. Phys. Rev. E 62, 7247–7250 (2000).

  13. 13

    Kotaki, H. et al. Direct measurement of coherent ultrahigh wakefields excited by intense ultrashort laser pulses in a gas-jet plasma. Phys. Plasmas 9, 1392–1400 (2002).

  14. 14

    Geindre, J. P. et al. Frequency-domain interferometer for measuring the phase and amplitude of a femtosecond pulse probing a laser-produced plasma. Opt. Lett. 19, 1997–1999 (1994).

  15. 15

    Le Blanc, S. P., Gaul, E. W., Matlis, N. H., Rundquist, A. & Downer, M. C. Single-shot ultrafast phase measurement by frequency domain holography. Opt. Lett. 25, 764–766 (2000).

  16. 16

    Bahk, S.-W. et al. Generation and characterization of the highest laser intensities. (1022 W cm−2). Opt. Lett. 29, 2837–2839 (2004).

  17. 17

    Chen, S.-Y., Sarkisov, G. S., Maksimchuk, A., Wagner, R. & Umstadter, D. Evolution of a plasma waveguide created during relativistic ponderomotive self-channeling of an intense laser pulse. Phys. Rev. Lett. 80, 2610–2613 (1998).

  18. 18

    Kim, K. Y., Alexeev, I. & Milchberg, H. M. Single-shot supercontinuum spectral interferometry. Appl. Phys. Lett. 81, 4124–4126 (2002).

  19. 19

    Augst, S., Meyerhofer, D. D., Strickland, D. & Chin, S. L. Laser ionization of noble gases by Coulomb-barrier suppression. J. Opt. Soc. Am. B 8, 858–867 (1991).

  20. 20

    Mora, P. & Antonsen, T. M. Jr Kinetic modeling of intense, short laser pulses propagating in tenuous plasmas. Phys. Plasmas 4, 217–229 (1997).

  21. 21

    Bulanov, S. V., Pegoraro, F., Pukhov, A. M. & Sakharov, A. S. Transverse-wake wave breaking. Phys. Rev. Lett. 78, 4205–4208 (1997).

  22. 22

    Andreev, N. E., Gorbunov, L. M. & Ramazashvili, R. R. Theory of a three-dimensional plasma wave excited by a high-intensity laser pulse in an underdense plasma. Plasma Phys. Rep. 23, 277–284 (1997).

  23. 23

    Decker, C. D., Mori, W. B. & Katsouleas, T. Particle-in-cell simulations of Raman forward scattering from short-pulse high-intensity lasers. Phys. Rev. E 50, R3338–R3341 (1994).

  24. 24

    Kalmykov, S., Gorbunov, L. M., Mora, P. & Shvets, G. 12th Advanced Accelerator Concepts Workshop, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, 2006. AIP Proc. (in the press).

  25. 25

    Pretzler, G., Jäger, H., Neger, T., Philipp, H. & Woisetschläger, J. Comparison of different methods of Abel inversion using computer-simulated and experimental side-on data. Z. Naturf. A 47, 955–970 (1992).

  26. 26

    Pai, C.-H. et al. Fabrication of spatial transient-density structures as high-field plasma photonic devices. Phys. Plasmas 12, 070707 (2005).

Download references

Acknowledgements

This work was supported by US Department of Energy grant DE-FG03-96ER40954 and US National Science Foundation Physics Frontier Center grant PHY-0114336.

Author information

N.H.M. designed and set up the experiment and data acquisition system and acquired and analysed all data presented, with assistance from S.R. A.M. supervised the experiments on site. V.Y. supervised construction and operation of the HERCULES laser system, and V.C. and G.K. operated it during the experiments. P.R. assisted with characterization of laser pulses and computerized data acquisition. T.M. provided a key insight in configuring the chirped probe pulses. S.K. and G.S. carried out all WAKE simulations presented in the paper, and S.S.B. confirmed them independently with a separate code and contributed to theoretical interpretation. M.C.D. conceived and co-supervised the experiment, and wrote the paper. All authors discussed the results and commented on the manuscript.

Correspondence to N. H. Matlis or M. C. Downer.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Supplementary information

Supplementary Information, Fig. S1 (PDF 7396 kb)

Supplementary Information, Fig. S1 (PDF 53 kb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Further reading