Optimal regimes and physical processes at work are identified for the first round of laser wakefield acceleration experiments proposed at a future CILEX facility. The Apollon-10P CILEX laser, delivering fully compressed, near-PW-power pulses of sub-25 fs duration, is well suited for driving electron density wakes in the blowout regime in cm-length gas targets. Early destruction of the pulse (partly due to energy depletion)prevents electrons from reaching dephasing, limiting the energy gain to about 3 GeV. However, the optimal operating regimes, found with reduced and full three-dimensional particle-in-cell simulations, show high energy efficiency, with about 10%of incident pulse energy transferred to 3 GeV electron bunches with sub-5% energy spread, half-nC charge, and absolutely no low-energy background. This optimal acceleration occurs in 2 cm-length plasmas of electron density below 10 18 per cm 3. Due to their high charge and low phase space volume, these multi-GeV bunches are tailor-made for staged acceleration planned in the framework of the CILEX project. The hallmarks of the optimal regime are electron self-injection at the early stage of laser pulse propagation, stable self-guiding of the pulse through the entire acceleration process, and no need for an external plasma channel. With the initial focal spot closely matched for the nonlinear self-guiding, the laser pulse stabilizes transversely within two Rayleigh lengths, preventing subsequent evolution of the accelerating bucket. This dynamics prevents continuous self-injection of background electrons, preserving low phase space volume of the bunch through the plasma. Near the end of propagation, an optical shock builds up in the pulse tail.This neither disrupts pulse propagation nor produces any noticeable low-energy background in the electron spectra, which is instriking contrast with most of existing GeV-scale acceleration experiments.
- Laser wakefield acceleration,
- Petawatt laser,
- Blowout regime,
- Electron self-injection,
- Optical shock,
- Particle-in-cell simulations
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/serguei_kalmykov/42/