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Energy spread reduction of electron beams produced via laser wakefield acceleration

By Bradley Bolt Pollock


Laser wakefield acceleration of electrons holds great promise for producing ultra-compact stages of GeV scale, high quality electron beams for applications such as x-ray free electron lasers and high energy colliders. Ultra-high intensity laser pulses can be self-guided by relativistic plasma waves over tens of vacuum diffraction lengths, to give >1 GeV energy in cm-scale low density plasma using ionization-induced injection to inject charge into the wake at low densities. This thesis describes a series of experiments which investigates the physics of LWFA in the self-guided blowout regime. Beginning with high density gas jet experiments the scaling of the LWFA-produced electron beam energy with plasma electron density is found to be in excellent agreement with both phenomenological theory and with 3-D PIC simulations. It is also determined that self-trapping of background electrons into the wake exhibits a threshold as a function of the electron density, and at the densities required to produce electron beams with energies exceeding 1 GeV a different mechanism is required to trap charge into low density wakes. By introducing small concentrations of high-Z gas to the nominal He background the ionization-induced injection mechanism is enabled. Electron trapping is observed at densities as low as 1.3x10¹⁸ cm⁻³ in a gas cell target, and 1.45 GeV electrons are demonstrated for the first time from LWFA. This is currently the highest electron energy ever produced from LWFA. The ionization-induced trapping mechanism is also shown to generate quasi-continuous electron beam energies, which is undesirable for accelerator applications. By limiting the region over which ionization-induced trapping occurs, the energy spread of the electron beams can be controlled. The development of a novel two-stage gas cell target provides the capability to tailor the gas composition in the longitudinal direction, and confine the trapping process to occur only in a limited, defined region. Using this technique a 460 MeV electron beam was produced with an energy spread of 5%. This technique is directly scalable to multi-GeV electron beam generation with sub-percent energy spread

Topics: UCSD Dissertations, Academic Engineering science (Engineering physics). (Discipline)
Publisher: eScholarship, University of California
Year: 2012
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