High-charge electron beams from a laser-wakefield accelerator driven by a CO2 laser

Brunetti, Enrico and Campbell, R. Neil and Lovell, Jack and Jaroszynski, Dino A. (2022) High-charge electron beams from a laser-wakefield accelerator driven by a CO2 laser. Scientific Reports, 12 (1). 6703. ISSN 2045-2322 (https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-022-10160-9)

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Laser-wakefield accelerators (LWFAs) driven by widely available 100s TW-class near-infrared laser systems have been shown to produce GeV-level electron beams with 10s-100s pC charge in centimetre-scale plasma. As the strength of the ponderomotive force is proportional to the square of the laser wavelength, more efficient LWFAs could be realised using longer wavelength lasers. Here we present a numerical study showing that 10.6 µm, sub-picosecond CO2 lasers with peak powers of 100-800 TW can produce high-charge electron beams, exceeding that possible from LWFAs driven by femtosecond near-infrared lasers by up to three orders of magnitude. Depending on the laser and plasma parameters, electron beams with 10s~MeV to GeV energy and 1-100 nC charge can be generated in 10-200 mm long plasma or gas media without requiring external guiding. The laser-to-electron energy conversion efficiency can be up to 70% and currents of 100s kA are achievable. A CO2 laser driven LWFA could be useful for applications requiring compact and industrially robust accelerators and radiations sources.