Narrow spread electron beams from a laser-plasma wakefield accelerator

Wiggins, S. M. and Anania, M. P. and Brunetti, E. and Cipiccia, S. and Ersfeld, B. and Islam, M and Issac, R. C. and Raj, G. and Shanks, Richard and Vieux, G. and Welsh, G. H. and Gillespie, W. A. and MacLeod, A. M. and Jaroszynski, D. A.; Jaroszynski, DA and Rousse, A and Jaroszynski, Dino A. and Rousse, Antoine, eds. (2009) Narrow spread electron beams from a laser-plasma wakefield accelerator. In: Proceedings of SPIE 7359. SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering., CZE, p. 735914. ISBN 9780819476333

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The Advanced Laser-Plasma High-Energy Accelerators towards X-rays (ALPHA-X) programme is developing laser-plasma accelerators for the production of ultra-short electron bunches with subsequent generation of incoherent radiation pulses from plasma and coherent short-wavelength radiation pulses from a free-electron laser (FEL). The first quantitative measurements of the electron energy spectra have been made on the University of Strathclyde ALPHA-X wakefield acceleration beam line. A high peak power laser pulse (energy 900 mJ, duration 35 fs) is focused into a gas jet (nozzle length 2 mm) using an F/16 spherical mirror. Electrons from the laser-induced plasma are self-injected into the accelerating potential of the plasma density wake behind the laser pulse. Electron beams emitted from the plasma have been imaged downstream using a series of Lanex screens positioned along the beam line axis and the divergence of the electron beam has been measured to be typically in the range 1-3 mrad. Measurements of the electron energy spectrum, obtained using the ALPHA-X high resolution magnetic dipole spectrometer, are presented. The maximum central energy of the monoenergetic beam is 90 MeV and r.m.s. relative energy spreads as low as 0.8% are measured. The mean central energy is 82 MeV and mean relative energy spread is 1.1 A theoretical analysis of this unexpectedly high electron beam quality is presented and the potential impact on the viability of FELs driven by electron beams from laser wakefield accelerators is examined.