Demonstration of passive plasma lensing of a laser wakefield accelerated electron bunch

Kuschel, S. and Hollatz, D. and Heinemann, T. and Karger, O. and Schwab, M. B. and Ullmann, D. and Knetsch, A. and Seidel, A. and Rödel, C. and Yeung, M. and Leier, M. and Blinne, A. and Ding, H. and Kurz, T. and Corvan, D. J. and Sävert, A. and Karsch, S. and Kaluza, M. C. and Hidding, B. and Zepf, M. (2016) Demonstration of passive plasma lensing of a laser wakefield accelerated electron bunch. Physical Review Accelerators and Beams, 19 (7). ISSN 1098-4402

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    Abstract

    We report on the first demonstration of passive all-optical plasma lensing using a two-stage setup. An intense femtosecond laser accelerates electrons in a laser wakefield accelerator (LWFA) to 100 MeV over millimeter length scales. By adding a second gas target behind the initial LWFA stage we introduce a robust and independently tunable plasma lens. We observe a density dependent reduction of the LWFA electron beam divergence from an initial value of 2.3 mrad, down to 1.4 mrad (rms), when the plasma lens is in operation. Such a plasma lens provides a simple and compact approach for divergence reduction well matched to the mm-scale length of the LWFA accelerator. The focusing forces are provided solely by the plasma and driven by the bunch itself only, making this a highly useful and conceptually new approach to electron beam focusing. Possible applications of this lens are not limited to laser plasma accelerators. Since no active driver is needed the passive plasma lens is also suited for high repetition rate focusing of electron bunches. Its understanding is also required for modeling the evolution of the driving particle bunch in particle driven wake field acceleration.