Plasma wakefield accelerators can be driven either by intense laser pulses (LWFA) or by intense particle beams (PWFA). A third approach that combines the complementary advantages of both types of plasma wakefield accelerator has been established with increasing success over the last decade and is called hybrid LWFA→PWFA. Essentially, a compact LWFA is exploited to produce an energetic, high-current electron beam as a driver for a subsequent PWFA stage, which, in turn, is exploited for phase-constant, inherently laser-synchronized, quasi-static acceleration over extended acceleration lengths. The sum is greater than its parts: the approach not only provides a compact, cost-effective alternative to linac-driven PWFA for exploitation of PWFA and its advantages for acceleration and high-brightness beam generation, but extends the parameter range accessible for PWFA and, through the added benefit of co-location of inherently synchronized laser pulses, enables high-precision pump/probing, injection, seeding and unique experimental constellations, e.g., for beam coordination and collision experiments. We report on the accelerating progress of the approach achieved in a series of collaborative experiments and discuss future prospects and potential impact.
- plasma wakefield acceleration
- compact particle acceleration
- radiation sources