Demonstration of a compact plasma accelerator powered by laser-accelerated electron beams

T. Kurz, T. Heinemann, M. F. Gilljohann, Y.Y. Chang, J. P. Couperus Cabadağ, A. Debus, O. Kononenko, R. Pausch, S. Schöbel, R. W. Assmann, M Bussmann, H. Ding, J. Götzfried, A. Köhler, G. Raj, S. Schindler, K. Steiniger, O. Zarini, A. Döpp, B. HiddingS Karsch, U. Schramm, A. Martinez de la Ossa, A. Irman

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Plasma wakefield accelerators are capable of sustaining gigavolt-per-centimeter accelerating fields, surpassing the electric breakdown threshold in state-of-the-art accelerator modules by 3-4 orders of magnitude. Beam-driven wakefields offer particularly attractive conditions for the generation and acceleration of high-quality beams. However, this scheme relies on kilometer-scale accelerators. Here, we report on the demonstration of a millimeter-scale plasma accelerator powered by laser-accelerated electron beams. We showcase the acceleration of electron beams to 128 MeV, consistent with simulations exhibiting accelerating gradients exceeding 100 GV m−1. This miniaturized accelerator is further explored by employing a controlled pair of drive and witness electron bunches, where a fraction of the driver energy is transferred to the accelerated witness through the plasma. Such a hybrid approach allows fundamental studies of beam-driven plasma accelerator concepts at widely accessible high-power laser facilities. It is anticipated to provide compact sources of energetic high-brightness electron beams for quality-demanding applications such as free-electron lasers.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2895
Number of pages9
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - 17 May 2021


  • laser accelerated electron beams
  • plasma accelerators
  • plasma wakefield acceleration


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