CETAL-PW | Research | Particles acceleration

The acceleration of different particles (electrons, protons, ions, neutrons) has been and continues to be extensively studied in the frame of conventional accelerators, up to now reaching energies in the order of GeV-TeV. It is well known that the energy gain per unit length in classical accelerators is limited by the material damage thresholds which limits the acceleration fields to about 100 MV/m. Therefore, high particle energies can only be reached through additional acceleration length leading to sometimes impressively large dimensions of state-of-the-art accelerators.

Contrary to conventional accelerators, laser-driven plasmas are capable to generate and sustain electric fields higher than 100 GV/m. Due to the huge progress in the field of high-power lasers, laser-plasma accelerators are now capable of delivering beams of electrons with energies from tens and few hundred MeV up to the GeV range, over acceleration lengths of mm - cm, as well as ion beams of few tens of MeV/nucleon over distances of tens of microns.

The plasma is created by an ultra-short, ultra-intense laser pulse impinging on a target, whereupon the free particles interact immediately with the strong electromagnetic fields of the laser. Since the energy density of such ultra-short pulses is extremely high, efficient energy coupling processes exist between the laser field and the plasma, and the particle may gain substantial kinetic energy within very short distances.

From gaseous targets (gas jet and gas cell) electrons with energies up to few GeV could be obtained.

Protons and ions with energies from few MeV up to tens of MeV/nucleon could be obtained from solid targets (thin films).