A new scheme for mode locking a free-electron laser (FEL) amplifier is proposed based on electron beam current modulation. It is found that certain properties of the original concept (Thompson and McNeil 2008 Phys. Rev. Lett. 100 203901), based on the energy modulation of electrons, are improved, including the spectral brightness of the source and the purity of the series of short pulses. Numerical comparisons are made between the new and old schemes and between a mode-locked FEL and a self-amplified spontaneous emission FEL. Illustrative examples using a hypothetical mode-locked FEL amplifier are provided. The ability to generate intense coherent radiation with a large bandwidth is demonstrated.
- quantum optics