Skip to main content
Studies of laser wakefield structures and electron acceleration in underdense plasmas
Physics of Plasmas (2008)
  • Anatoly Maksimchuk
  • Steven A. Reed
  • Stepan S. Bulanov
  • Vladimir Chvykov
  • Galina Kalintchenko
  • Takeshi Matsuoka
  • Christopher McGuffey
  • Gerard Mourou
  • Natalia Naumova
  • John Nees
  • Pascal Rousseau
  • Victor Yanovsky
  • Karl Krushelnick
  • Nicholas H. Matlis
  • Serguei Y. Kalmykov
  • Gennady Shvets
  • Michael C. Downer
  • C. R. Vane
  • J. R. Beene
  • Daniel W. Stracener
  • David R. Schultz

Experiments on electron acceleration and optical diagnostics of laser wakes were performed on the HERCULES facility in a wide range of laser and plasma parameters. Using frequency domain holography we demonstrated single shot visualization of individual plasma waves, produced by 40 TW, 30 fs laser pulses focused to the intensity of 10^{19} W/cm^2 onto a supersonic He gas jet with plasma densities n_e ~ 10^{19} cm^{−3}. These holographic “snapshots” capture the variation in shape of the plasma wave with distance behind the driver, and resolve wave front curvature seen previously only in simulations. High-energy quasimonoenergetic electron beams were generated using plasma density in the range 1.5 x 10^{19} < n_e < 3.5 x 10^{19} cm^{−3}. These experiments demonstrated that the energy, charge, divergence, and pointing stability of the beam can be controlled by changing n_e, and that higher electron energies and more stable beams are produced for lower densities. An optimized quasimonoenergetic beam of over 300 MeV and 10 mrad angular divergence is demonstrated at a plasma density of n_e = 1.5 x 10^{19} cm^{−3}. The resultant relativistic electron beams have been used to perform photo-fission of 238U with a record high reaction yields of ~ 3 x 10^{5} / J. The results of initial experiments on electron acceleration at 70 TW are discussed.

  • Laser wakefield acceleration,
  • nonlinear plasma wake,
  • wakefield imaging,
  • frequency-domain holography,
  • nuclear activation,
  • particle-in-cell simulations
Publication Date
Spring May, 2008
Citation Information
Anatoly Maksimchuk, Steven A. Reed, Stepan S. Bulanov, Vladimir Chvykov, et al.. "Studies of laser wakefield structures and electron acceleration in underdense plasmas" Physics of Plasmas Vol. 15 (2008)
Available at: