Research Article

Electron Acceleration by a Wake Field Forced by an Intense Ultrashort Laser Pulse

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Science  22 Nov 2002:
Vol. 298, Issue 5598, pp. 1596-1600
DOI: 10.1126/science.1076782

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Plasmas are an attractive medium for the next generation of particle accelerators because they can support electric fields greater than several hundred gigavolts per meter. These accelerating fields are generated by relativistic plasma waves—space-charge oscillations—that can be excited when a high-intensity laser propagates through a plasma. Large currents of background electrons can then be trapped and subsequently accelerated by these relativistic waves. In the forced laser wake field regime, where the laser pulse length is of the order of the plasma wavelength, we show that a gain in maximum electron energy of up to 200 megaelectronvolts can be achieved, along with an improvement in the quality of the ultrashort electron beam.

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