Berkeley Lab Scientists Create the First-ever, 2-stage Laser-plasma Accelerator Powered by Independent Laser Pulses

Members of the BELLA Center staging experiment team, from left, are Eric Esarey, Wim Leemans, Jeroen van Tilborg, Carlo Benedetti, Kelly Swanson, Anthony Gonsalves, Joost Daniels, Sven Steinke, and Kei Nakamura. Not pictured are Cameron Geddes, Carl Schroeder, Nicholas Matlis, and Brian Shaw. (Photo credit: Roy Kaltschmidt/Berkeley Lab)

Researchers from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in the US have made an important breakthrough in the development of ultra-compact high-energy plasma-based accelerators. 

In a paper recently published in Nature, they demonstrate for the first time the technique of staging, or sequencing multiple plasma accelerators that are independently powered.  Staging is critical for high-energy physics applications of laser-plasma accelerators, as it enables one to achieve higher beam energies, while maintaining accelerating gradients orders of magnitude above conventional technology.

In these experiments, electrons from one laser-plasma accelerator were transported into a second laser-plasma accelerator, powered by a second laser pulse, and accelerated.  What was particularly novel about this experiment is that a plasma-based lens was employed to transport the beam between stages and a plasma mirror was used to couple in the second laser pulse.  These plasma-based components allowed the system to remain extremely compact.

With this result, one can envision scaling to beam energies of interest for high-energy physics applications in a compact footprint.  However, these results are a first step toward that vision—experiments at higher beam energy, with higher efficiency and improved beam quality, will need to be performed to further develop plasma-based technology for next-generation colliders.

Read more at: http://newscenter.lbl.gov/2016/02/01/2-stage-laser-plasma-accelerator/

2016 - 03 - 21