Electron Acceleration

Laser Wakefield Acceleration
Image: Stephan Kuschel
2D PIC simulation of the plasma wake behind the laser.
2D PIC Simulation der Plasmawelle hinter einem Laserpuls
2D PIC simulation of the plasma wake behind the laser. The color scale indicates the plasma density in 1/cm³. The streamlines show the movement of the electrons ni the co-moving system.
This video shows a simulation of a relativistic laser pulse propagating through a plasma. The plasma density is modulated due to the plasma wake driven by the laser pulse. The imprint of the laser's electric and magnetic filed is still visbile in the front. The while lines visualize traces of inidiviual particles of the plasma. The length of each line corresponds to the position of the particle during the last 5.5 femto seconds. Therefore faster particles have longer lines. Video by Stephan Kuschel.

Lasers generate the most extreme fields achievable in the laboratory on mesoscopic and macroscopic spatial scales (only highly ionised heavy ions have higher fields, but on the Angstrom scale). Ultra-intense lasers achieve fields of 1013V/m and greater, alternatively these fields are on the order of 10 MV/µm or 10GV/mm. Particle accelerators using radiofrequency waves typically accelerate particles to MeV to GeV over distances of many metres to kilometres – making the use of laser fields very attractive.

Electron accleration is most efficient if an accelerating field can co-move with electrons over large distances. This is achieved by driving a wakefield (like the wave following a ship) using a powerful laser: The laser expels the electrons in its path (just like a ship pushes away the water) and the electrons feel a force that accelerates them. The figures show simulations of the plasma wave with and without an electron bunch being accelerated (the accelerating bunch is the dot in V-shape).

The Research Team of Target Area 1
The Research Team of Target Area 1
Image: Ira Winkler