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  1. Abstract

    The concept of electron acceleration by a laser beam in vacuum is attractive due to its seeming simplicity, but its implementation has been elusive, as it requires efficient electron injection into the beam and a mechanism for counteracting transverse expulsion. Electron injection during laser reflection off a plasma mirror is a promising mechanism, but it is sensitive to the plasma density gradient that is hard to control. We get around this sensitivity by utilizing volumetric injection that takes place when a helical laser beam traverses a low-density target. The electron retention is achieved by choosing the helicity, such that the transverse field profiles are hollow while the longitudinal fields are peaked on central axis. We demonstrate using three-dimensional simulations that a 3 PW helical laser can generate a 50 pC low-divergence electron beam with a maximum energy of 1.5 GeV. The unique features of the beam are short acceleration distance (∼100 μm), compact transverse size, high areal density, and electron bunching (∼100 as bunch duration).

  2. Abstract Using plasma mirror injection we demonstrate, both analytically and numerically, that a circularly polarized helical laser pulse can accelerate highly collimated dense bunches of electrons to several hundred MeV using currently available laser systems. The circular-polarized helical (Laguerre–Gaussian) beam has a unique field structure where the transverse fields have helix-like wave-fronts which tend to zero on-axis where, at focus, there are large on-axis longitudinal magnetic and electric fields. The acceleration of electrons by this type of laser pulse is analyzed as a function of radial mode number and it is shown that the radial mode number has a profound effect on electron acceleration close to the laser axis. Using three-dimensional particle-in-cell simulations a circular-polarized helical laser beam with power of 0.6 PW is shown to produce several dense attosecond bunches. The bunch nearest the peak of the laser envelope has an energy of 0.47 GeV with spread as narrow as 10%, a charge of 26 pC with duration of ∼ 400 as, and a very low divergence of 20 mrad. The confinement by longitudinal magnetic fields in the near-axis region allows the longitudinal electric fields to accelerate the electrons over a long period after the initial reflection. Both themore »longitudinal E and B fields are shown to be essential for electron acceleration in this scheme. This opens up new paths toward attosecond electron beams, or attosecond radiation, at many laser facilities around the world.« less
  3. Abstract

    The formation and evolution of post-solitons has been discussed for quite some time both analytically and through the use of particle-in-cell (PIC) codes. It is however only recently that they have been directly observed in laser-plasma experiments. Relativistic electromagnetic (EM) solitons are localised structures that can occur in collisionless plasmas. They consist of a low-frequency EM wave trapped in a low electron number-density cavity surrounded by a shell with a higher electron number-density. Here we describe the results of an experiment in which a 100 TW Ti:sapphire laser (30 fs, 800 nm) irradiates a0.03gcm3TMPTA foam target with a focused intensityIl=9.5×1017Wcm2. A third harmonic (λprobe266nm) probe is employed to diagnose plasma motion for 25 ps after the main pulse interaction via Doppler-Spectroscopy. Both radiation-hydrodynamics and 2D PIC simulations are performed to aid in the interpretation of the experimental results. We show that the rapid motion of the probe critical-surface observed in the experiment might be a signature of post-soliton wall motion.