Simulation study of the sub-terawatt laser wakefield acceleration operated in self-modulated regime

C. Y. Hsieh, M. W. Lin, S. H. Chen

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Laser wakefield acceleration (LWFA) can be accomplished by introducing a sub-terawatt (TW) laser pulse into a thin, high-density gas target. In this way, the self-focusing effect and the self-modulation that happened on the laser pulse produce a greatly enhanced laser peak intensity that can drive a nonlinear plasma wave to accelerate electrons. A particle-in-cell model is developed to study sub-TW LWFA when a 0.6-TW laser pulse interacts with a dense hydrogen plasma. Gas targets having a Gaussian density profile or a flat-top distribution are defined for investigating the properties of sub-TW LWFA when conducting with a gas jet or a gas cell. In addition to using 800-nm laser pulses, simulations are performed with 1030-nm laser pulses, as they represent a viable approach to realize the sub-TW LWFA driven by high-frequency, diode-pumped laser systems. The peak density which allows the laser peak power PL∼2Pcr of self-focusing critical power is favourable for conducting sub-TW LWFA. Otherwise, an excessively high peak density can induce an undesired filament effect which rapidly disintegrates the laser field envelope and violates the process of plasma wave excitation. The plateau region of a flat-top density distribution allows the self-focusing and the self-modulation of the laser pulse to develop, from which well-established plasma bubbles can be produced to accelerate electrons. The process of electron injection is complicated in such high-density plasma conditions; however, increasing the length of the plateau region represents a straightforward method to realize the injection and acceleration of electrons within the first bubble, such that an improved LWFA performance can be accomplished.

Original languageEnglish
Article number023101
JournalPhysics of Plasmas
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2018


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