Effect of the Laser Wave Front in a Laser-Plasma Accelerator

Abstract : A high-repetition rate electron source is generated by tightly focusing kHz, few-mJ laser pulses into an underdense plasma. This high-intensity laser-plasma interaction leads to stable electron beams over several hours but with strikingly complex transverse distributions even for good quality laser focal spots. We find that the electron beam distribution is sensitive to the laser wave front via the laser midfield distribution rather than the laser focal spot itself. We are able to measure the laser wave front around the focus and include it in realistic particle-in-cell simulations demonstrating the role of the laser wave front on the acceleration of electrons. Distortions of the laser wave front cause spatial inhomogeneities in the midfield laser intensity and, consequently, the laser pulse drives an inhomogeneous transverse wakefield whose focusing and defocusing properties affect the electron distribution. These findings explain the experimental results and suggest the possibility of controlling the electron spatial distribution in laser-plasma accelerators by tailoring the laser wave front.
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B Beaurepaire, A Vernier, M Bocoum, F Böhle, A Jullien, et al.. Effect of the Laser Wave Front in a Laser-Plasma Accelerator. Physical Review X, American Physical Society, 2015, 5, pp.031012. ⟨10.1103/PhysRevX.5.031012⟩. ⟨hal-01229133⟩

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