Controlling the parameters of a laser plasma accelerated electron beam is a topic of intense research with a particular focus placed on controlling the injection phase of electrons into the accelerating structure from the background plasma. An essential prerequisite for high-quality beams is dark-current free acceleration (i.e., no electrons accelerated beyond those deliberately injected). We show that small-scale density ripples in the background plasma are sufficient to cause the uncontrolled (self-)injection of electrons. Such ripples can be as short as ∼50 μm and can therefore not be resolved by standard interferometry. Background free injection with substantially improved beam characteristics (divergence and pointing) is demonstrated in a gas cell designed for a controlled gas flow. The results are supported by an analytical theory as well as 3D particle in cell simulations.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy(all)