Direct observation of plasma waves and dynamics induced by laser-accelerated electron beams

M. F. Gilljohann, H. Ding, A. Döpp, J. Götzfried, S. Schindler, G. Schilling, S. Corde, A. Debus, T. Heinemann, B. Hidding, S. M. Hooker, A. Irman, O. Kononenko, T. Kurz, A. Martinez De La Ossa, U. Schramm, S. Karsch

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Abstract

Plasma wakefield acceleration (PWFA) is a novel acceleration technique with promising prospects for both particle colliders and light sources. However, PWFA research has so far been limited to a few large-scale accelerator facilities worldwide. Here, we present first results on plasma wakefield generation using electron beams accelerated with a 100-TW-class Ti:sapphire laser. Because of their ultrashort duration and high charge density, the laser-accelerated electron bunches are suitable to drive plasma waves at electron densities in the order of 1019 cm-3. We capture the beam-induced plasma dynamics with femtosecond resolution using few-cycle optical probing and, in addition to the plasma wave itself, we observe a distinctive transverse ion motion in its trail. This previously unobserved phenomenon can be explained by the ponderomotive force of the plasma wave acting on the ions, resulting in a modulation of the plasma density over many picoseconds. Because of the scaling laws of plasma wakefield generation, results obtained at high plasma density using high-current laser-accelerated electron beams can be readily scaled to low-density systems. Laser-driven PWFA experiments can thus act as miniature models for their larger, conventional counterparts. Furthermore, our results pave the way towards a novel generation of laser-driven PWFA, which can potentially provide ultralow emittance beams within a compact setup.

Original languageEnglish
Article number011046
Number of pages13
JournalPhysical Review X
Volume9
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 12 Mar 2019

Keywords

  • photonics
  • plasma physics
  • plasma wakefield acceleration

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