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  1. In a laser wakefield accelerator (LWFA), an intense laser pulse excites a plasma wave that traps and accelerates electrons to relativistic energies. When the pulse overlaps the accelerated electrons, it can enhance the energy gain through direct laser acceleration (DLA) by resonantly driving the betatron oscillations of the electrons in the plasma wave. The traditional particle-in-cell (PIC) algorithm, although often the tool of choice to study DLA, contains inherent errors due to numerical dispersion and the time staggering of the electric and magnetic fields. Furthermore, conventional PIC implementations cannot reliably disentangle the fields of the plasma wave and laser pulse, which obscures interpretation of the dominant acceleration mechanism. Here, a customized field solver that reduces errors from both numerical dispersion and time staggering is used in conjunction with a field decomposition into azimuthal modes to perform PIC simulations of DLA in an LWFA. Comparisons with traditional PIC methods, model equations, and experimental data show improved accuracy with the customized solver and convergence with an order-of-magnitude fewer cells. The azimuthal-mode decomposition reveals that the most energetic electrons receive comparable energy from DLA and LWFA. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 1, 2024
  2. Plasma-based acceleration has emerged as a promising candidate as an accelerator technology for a future linear collider or a next-generation light source. We consider the plasma wakefield accelerator (PWFA) concept where a plasma wave wake is excited by a particle beam and a trailing beam surfs on the wake. For a linear collider, the energy transfer efficiency from the drive beam to the wake and from the wake to the trailing beam must be large, while the emittance and energy spread of the trailing bunch must be preserved. One way to simultaneously achieve this when accelerating electrons is to use longitudinally shaped bunches and nonlinear wakes. In the linear regime, there is an analytical formalism to obtain the optimal shapes. In the nonlinear regime, however, the optimal shape of the driver to maximize the energy transfer efficiency cannot be precisely obtained because currently no theory describes the wake structure and excitation process for all degrees of nonlinearity. In addition, the ion channel radius is not well defined at the front of the wake where the plasma electrons are not fully blown out by the drive beam. We present results using a novel optimization method to effectively determine a current profile for the drive and trailing beam in PWFA that provides low energy spread, low emittance, and high acceleration efficiency. We parameterize the longitudinal beam current profile as a piecewise-linear function and define optimization objectives. For the trailing beam, the algorithm converges quickly to a nearly inverse trapezoidal trailing beam current profile similar to that predicted by the ultrarelativistic limit of the nonlinear wakefield theory. For the drive beam, the beam profile found by the optimization in the nonlinear regime that maximizes the transformer ratio also resembles that predicted by linear theory. The current profiles found from the optimization method provide higher transformer ratios compared with the linear ramp predicted by the relativistic limit of the nonlinear theory. 
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  3. Abstract The longitudinal coherence of X-ray free-electron lasers (XFELs) in the self-amplified spontaneous emission regime could be substantially improved if the high brightness electron beam could be pre-bunched on the radiated wavelength-scale. Here, we show that it is indeed possible to realize such current modulated electron beam at angstrom scale by exciting a nonlinear wake across a periodically modulated plasma-density downramp/plasma cathode. The density modulation turns on and off the injection of electrons in the wake while downramp provides a unique longitudinal mapping between the electrons’ initial injection positions and their final trapped positions inside the wake. The combined use of a downramp and periodic modulation of micrometers is shown to be able to produces a train of high peak current (17 kA) electron bunches with a modulation wavelength of 10’s of angstroms - orders of magnitude shorter than the plasma density modulation. The peak brightness of the nano-bunched beam can be O (10 21 A/m 2 /rad 2 ) orders of magnitude higher than current XFEL beams. Such prebunched, high brightness electron beams hold the promise for compact and lower cost XEFLs that can produce nanometer radiation with hundreds of GW power in a 10 s of centimeter long undulator. 
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  4. Abstract Due to the highly nonlinear nature of the beam-loading, it is currently not possible to analytically determine the beam parameters needed in a two-bunch plasma wakefield accelerator for maintaining a low energy spread. Therefore in this paper, by using the Broyden–Fletcher–Goldfarb–Shanno algorithm for the parameter scanning with the code QuickPIC and the polynomial regression together with k -fold cross-validation method, we obtain two fitting formulas for calculating the parameters of tri-Gaussian electron beams when minimizing the energy spread based on the beam-loading effect in a nonlinear plasma wakefield accelerator. One formula allows the optimization of the normalized charge per unit length of a trailing beam to achieve the minimal energy spread, i.e. the optimal beam-loading. The other one directly gives the transformer ratio when the trailing beam achieves the optimal beam-loading. A simple scaling law for charges of drive beams and trailing beams is obtained from the fitting formula, which indicates that the optimal beam-loading is always achieved for a given charge ratio of the two beams when the length and separation of two beams and the plasma density are fixed. The formulas can also help obtain the optimal plasma densities for the maximum accelerated charge and the maximum acceleration efficiency under the optimal beam-loading respectively. These two fitting formulas will significantly enhance the efficiency for designing and optimizing a two-bunch plasma wakefield acceleration stage. 
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