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Phys Rev Lett. 2006 Jun 2;96(21):215001. Epub 2006 May 30.

Laser-wakefield acceleration of monoenergetic electron beams in the first plasma-wave period.

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1
Blackett Laboratory, Imperial College London, London SW7 2BZ, United Kingdom.

Abstract

Beam profile measurements of laser-wakefield accelerated electron bunches reveal that in the monoenergetic regime the electrons are injected and accelerated at the back of the first period of the plasma wave. With pulse durations ctau >or= lambda(p), we observe an elliptical beam profile with the axis of the ellipse parallel to the axis of the laser polarization. This increase in divergence in the laser polarization direction indicates that the electrons are accelerated within the laser pulse. Reducing the plasma density (decreasing ctau/lambda(p)) leads to a beam profile with less ellipticity, implying that the self-injection occurs at the rear of the first period of the plasma wave. This also demonstrates that the electron bunches are less than a plasma wavelength long, i.e., have a duration <25 fs. This interpretation is supported by 3D particle-in-cell simulations.

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