Thesis Open Access
GeV electron bunches accelerated on a centimeter scale device exemplify the extraordinary advances of laser-plasma acceleration. The combination of high charges from optimized injection schemes and intrinsic femtosecond short bunch duration yields kiloampere peak currents. Further enhancing the current while reducing the energy spread will pave the way for future application, e.g. the driver for compact secondary radiation sources such as high-field THz, high-brightness x-ray or gamma-ray sources. One essential key for beam transport to a specific application is an electron bunch with high quality beam parameters such as low energy spread as well as small divergence and spot size. The inherent micrometer size at the plasma exit is typically sufficient for an efficient coupling into a conventional beamline. However, energy spread and beam divergence require optimization before the beam can be transported efficiently. Induced by the high peak current, the beam loading regime can be used in order to achieve optimized beam parameters for beam transport.
In this thesis, the impact of beam loading on the transverse electron dynamic is systematically studied by investigating betatron radiation and electron beam divergence. For this reason, the bubble regime with self-truncated ionization injection (STII) is applied to set up a nanocoulomb-class laser wakefield accelerator. The accelerator is driven by 150TW laser pulses from the DRACO high power laser system. A supersonic gas jet provides a 3mm long acceleration medium with electron densities from 3 × 1018 cm−3 to 5 × 1018 cm−3. The STII scheme together with the employed setup yields highly reproducible injections with bunch charges of up to 0.5 nC. The recorded betatron radius at the accelerator exit is about one micron and reveals that the beam size stays at the same value. The optimal beam loading, which is observed at around 250 pC to 300 pC, leads to the minimum energy spread of ~40MeV and a 20% smaller divergence. It is demonstrated that an incomplete betatron phase mixing due to the small energy spread can explain the experimentally observed minimum beam divergence.