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Electron beam pointing stability of a laser wakefield accelerator

Issac, R. C. and Vieux, G. and Welsh, G. H. and Shanks, R. and Brunetti, E. and Cipiccia, S. and Anania, M. P. and Yang, X. and Wiggins, S. M. and Islam, M. R. and Ersfeld, B. and Farmer, J. and Raj, G. and Chen, S. and Clark, D. and McCanny, T. and Jaroszynski, D. A. (2009) Electron beam pointing stability of a laser wakefield accelerator. In: Conference on Harnessing Relativistic Plasma Waves as Novel Radiation Sources From Terahertz to X-Rays and Beyond, 2009-04-21 - 2009-04-23.

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Electron acceleration using plasma waves driven by ultra-short relativistic intensity laser pulses has undoubtedly excellent potential for driving a compact light source. However, for a wakefield accelerator to become a useful and reliable compact accelerator the beam properties need to meet a minimum standard. To demonstrate the feasibility of a wakefield based radiation source we have reliably produced electron beams with energies of 82 +/- 5 MeV, with 1 +/- 0.2% energy spread and 3 mrad r.m.s. divergence using a 0.9 J, 35 fs 800 nm laser. Reproducible beam pointing is essential for transporting the beam along the electron beam line. We find experimentally that electrons are accelerated close to the laser axis at low plasma densities. However, at plasma densities in excess of 10(19) cm(-3), electron beams have an elliptical beam profile with the major axis of the ellipse rotated with respect to the direction of polarization of the laser.