Single-shot visualization of evolving laser wakefields using an all-optical streak camera

Zhengyan Li, Hai En Tsai, Xi Zhang, Chih Hao Pai, Yen Yu Chang, Rafal Zgadzaj, Xiaoming Wang, V. Khudik, G. Shvets, M. C. Downer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


We visualize ps-time-scale evolution of an electron density bubble - a wake structure created in atmospheric density plasma by an intense ultrashort laser pulse - from the phase "streak" that the bubble imprints onto a probe pulse that crosses its path obliquely. Phase streaks, recovered in one shot using frequency-domain interferometric techniques, reveal the formation, propagation, and coalescence of the bubble within a 3 mm long ionized helium gas target. 3D particle-in-cell simulations validate the observed density-dependent bubble evolution, and correlate it with the generation of a quasimonoenergetic ∼100MeV electron beam. The results provide a basis for understanding optimized electron acceleration at a plasma density ne≈2×1019cm-3, inefficient acceleration at lower density, and dephasing limits at higher density.

Original languageEnglish
Article number085001
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Issue number8
StatePublished - 22 Aug 2014


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