Experimental studies of laser plasma wakefield acceleration

  • Constantin Aniculaesei

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This thesis describes experiments that explore the possibility of improving the quality of an electron beam obtained from a laser wakefield accelerator (LWFA) by shaping the longitudinal plasma density profile. Different density profiles have been obtained by employing a range of Laval nozzles with different geometries. These are modelled and numerically simulated under different conditions using Fluent 6.3. Density lineouts from simulations for different heights above the nozzle give the plasma density profile for each experimental condition. The plasma density profile is modified by changing the geometry of the nozzle, the interaction point, the laser beam angle relative to the exit plane of the nozzle and pressure of the gas. In this way the leading up-ramp length of the density profile (that interacts first with the laser) has been varied between 0.47 mm to 1.39 mm and the maximum plasma density varied between 1.29 x 1019 cm⁻³ to 2.03 x 1019 cm⁻³. The influence of the density profile parameters on the LWFA process is quantified by monitoring the properties of the generated electron beam. It is shown that the leading ramp of the plasma density profile i.e. the ramp that interacts first with the laser, has a strong influence on the quality of the electron beam. Density profiles with the same peak plasma density but different ramp lengths generate electron beams with a factor of 1.4 difference in charge, 1.1 in electron energy, 2 in pointing and 1.45 in energy spread. Longer ramp lengths enhance the quality of electron beams, which suggest that LWFA injection occurs at the entrance density ramp. Complex density profiles are produced by tilting the nozzle relative to the direction of propagation of the laser. This allows continuous tuning of the peak energy of the electron beam from 135 ± 2MeV up to 171 ± 2MeV. The electron beam energy spread show improvements from 20.7 ± 1.2% to 8.9 ± 0.9%. The charge closely follows the evolution of the energy spread and has a mean value of 0.61 ± 0.16 pC. Experimental results also show that the angular distribution of the electron beam becomes elliptical when the laser focal plane is moved from the edge of the gas jet towards the centre of the density profile. This result is linked to the existence of a distorted LWFA bubble that propagates off-axis therefore affecting the pointing and transverse shape of the electron beam.
Date of Award2 Oct 2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University Of Strathclyde
SupervisorDino Jaroszynski (Supervisor) & Paul McKenna (Supervisor)

Cite this