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Phys Rev Lett. 2010 Jan 15;104(2):025004. Epub 2010 Jan 15.

Ionization induced trapping in a laser wakefield accelerator.

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Center for Ultrafast Optical Science, The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109, USA.


Experimental studies of electrons produced in a laser wakefield accelerator indicate trapping initiated by ionization of target gas atoms. Targets composed of helium and controlled amounts of various gases were found to increase the beam charge by as much as an order of magnitude compared to pure helium at the same electron density and decrease the beam divergence from 5.1+/-1.0 to 2.9+/-0.8 mrad. The measurements are supported by particle-in-cell modeling including ionization. This mechanism should allow generation of electron beams with lower emittance and higher charge than in preionized gas.

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