High-repetition-rate relativistic electron acceleration in plasma wakefields driven by few-cycle laser pulses

Abstract : Continuing progress in laser technology has enabled dramatic advances in laser wakefield acceleration (LWFA), a technique that permits driving particles by electric fields three orders of magnitude higher than in conventional radio-frequency accelerators. Due to significantly reduced space charge and velocity dispersion effects, the resultant relativistic electron bunches have also been identified as a candidate tool to achieve unprecedented sub-10 fs temporal resolution in ultrafast electron diffraction (UED) experiments. High repetition rate operation is desirable to improve data collection statistics and thus washout shot-to-shot charge fluctuations inherent to plasma accelerators. It is well known that high-quality electron beams can be achieved in the blowout, or "bubble" regime, which is at present regularly accessed with ≈ 30 fs Joule-class lasers that can perform up to few shots per second. Our group on the contraryutilized a cutting edge laser system producing few-mJ pulses compressed nearly to a single optical cycle (3.4 fs) to demonstrate for the first time an MeV-grade particle accelerator with properties characteristic to the blowout regime operating at 1 kHz repetition rate. We further investigate the plasma density profile and exact laser pulse waveform effects on the source output, and show that using special gas microjets a charge of tens of pC/shot can be achieved. We expect this technique to lead to a generation of highly accessible and robust instruments for the scientific community to conduct UED experiments or to be used for other applications. This work also serves to expand our knowledge on the scalability of laser-plasma acceleration.
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Dominykas Gustas. High-repetition-rate relativistic electron acceleration in plasma wakefields driven by few-cycle laser pulses. Accelerator Physics [physics.acc-ph]. Université Paris-Saclay, 2018. English. ⟨NNT : 2018SACLX118⟩. ⟨tel-02091135v2⟩

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