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Multi-Pulse Laser Wakefield Acceleration: A New Route to Efficient, High-Repetition-Rate Plasma Accelerators and High Flux Radiation Sources

: Hooker, S.M.; Bartolini, R.; Mangles, S.P.D.; Tünnermann, A.; Corner, L.; Limpert, J.; Seryi, A.; Walczak, R.


Journal of Physics. B, Atomic, molecular and optical physics 47 (2014), Nr. 23, Paper 234003
ISSN: 0022-3700
ISSN: 0953-4075
Fraunhofer IOF ()
acceleration; electron; free electron laser; laser produced plasma; light source

Laser-driven plasma accelerators can generate accelerating gradients three orders of magnitude larger than radio-frequency accelerators and have achieved beam energies above 1 GeV in centimetre long stages. However, the pulse repetition rate and wall-plug efficiency of laser plasma accelerators is limited by the driving laser to less than approximately 1 Hz and 0.1% respectively. Here we investigate the prospects for exciting the plasma wave with trains of low-energy laser pulses rather than a single high-energy pulse. Resonantly exciting the wakefield in this way would enable the use of different technologies, such as fibre or thin-disc lasers, which are able to operate at multi-kilohertz pulse repetition rates and with wall-plug efficiencies two orders of magnitude higher than current laser systems. We outline the parameters of efficient, GeV-scale, 10 kHz plasma accelerators and show that they could drive compact x-ray sources with average photon fluxes comparable to those of third-generation light source but with significantly improved temporal resolution. Likewise free-electron laser (FEL) operation could be driven with comparable peak power but with significantly larger repetition rates than extant FELs.