Published online by Cambridge University Press: 30 March 2012
Self-modulated wakefield acceleration was investigated at densities down to ~4 × 1018 cm−3 by propagating the 50 TW 300 fs LULI laser in helium gas jets at lengths up to 1 cm. Long interaction lengths were achieved by closer matching of the initial focal spot size to the matched spot size for these densities. Electrons with energies extending to 180 MeV were observed in broad energy spectra which show some evidence for non-Maxwellian features at high energy. Two-dimensional PIC simulations indicate that the intial laser pulse breaks up into small pulselets that are eventually compressed and focused inside the first few plasma periods, leading to a ‘bubble-like’ acceleration of electron bunches.
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