Extremely brilliant GeV γ-rays from a two-stage laser-plasma accelerator

Zhu, Xing-Long and Chen, Min and Weng, Su-Ming and Yu, Tong-Pu and Wang, Wei-Min and He, Feng and Sheng, Zheng-Ming and McKenna, Paul and Jaroszynski, Dino A. and Zhang, Jie (2020) Extremely brilliant GeV γ-rays from a two-stage laser-plasma accelerator. Science Advances, 6 (22). eaaz7240. ISSN 2375-2548 (https://doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.aaz7240)

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Recent developments in laser-wakefield accelerators have led to compact ultrashort X/γ-ray sources that can deliver peak brilliance comparable with conventional synchrotron sources. Such sources normally have low efficiencies and are limited to 107-8 photons/shot in the keV to MeV range. We present a novel scheme to efficiently produce collimated ultrabright γ-ray beams with photon energies tunable up to GeV by focusing a multi-petawatt laser pulse into a two-stage wakefield accelerator. This high-intensity laser enables efficient generation of a multi-GeV electron beam with a high density and tens-nC charge in the first stage. Subsequently, both the laser and electron beams enter into a higher-density plasma region in the second stage. Numerical simulations demonstrate that more than 1012 γ-ray photons/shot are produced with energy conversion efficiency above 10% for photons above 1 MeV, and the peak brilliance is above 1026 photons s-1 mm-2 mrad-2 per 0.1% bandwidth at 1 MeV. This offers new opportunities for both fundamental and applied research.