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April 27, 2010

Breakthrough Computer Models will Enable Improved Laser Wakefield accelerators

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Laser-driven particle accelerators can accelerate electrons to energies in excess of 1 GeV over a distance of just a few centimetres. An innovative technique that drastically reduces the computational demands of simulating laser–plasma interactions should help increase this to tens of gigaelectronvolts.
Nature Physics - Exploring laser-wakefield-accelerator regimes for near-term lasers using particle-in-cell simulation in Lorentz-boosted frames

Plasma-based acceleration offers compact accelerators with potential applications for high-energy physics and photon sources. The past five years have seen an explosion of experimental results with monoenergetic electron beams up to 1 GeV on a centimetre-scale, using plasma waves driven by intense lasers. The next decade will see tremendous increases in laser power and energy, permitting beam energies beyond 10 GeV. Leveraging on the Lorentz transformations to bring the laser and plasma spatial scales together, we have reduced the computational time for modelling laser–plasma accelerators by several orders of magnitude, including all the relevant physics. This scheme enables the first one-to-one particle-in-cell simulations of the next generation of accelerators at the energy frontier. Our results demonstrate that, for a given laser energy, choices in laser and plasma parameters strongly affect the output electron beam energy, charge and quality, and that all of these parameters can be optimized

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