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Ultrahigh-intensity optical slow-wave structure for direct laser electron acceleration

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Abstract

We report the development of corrugated slow-wave plasma guiding structures with application to quasi-phase-matched direct laser acceleration of charged particles. These structures support guided propagation at intensities up to 2×1017Wcm2, limited at present by our current laser energy and side leakage. Hydrogen, nitrogen, and argon plasma waveguides up to 1.5cm in length with a corrugation period as short as 35μm are generated in extended cryogenic cluster jet flows, with corrugation depth approaching 100%. These structures remove the limitations of diffraction, phase matching, and material damage thresholds and promise to allow high-field acceleration of electrons over many centimeters using relatively small femtosecond lasers. We present simulations that show that a laser pulse power of 1.9TW should allow an acceleration gradient larger than 80MVcm. A modest power of only 30GW would still allow acceleration gradients in excess of 10MVcm.

© 2008 Optical Society of America

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