Ponderomotive acceleration of hot electrons in tenuous plasmas

V. I. Geyko, G. M. Fraiman, I. Y. Dodin, N. J. Fisch

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11 Scopus citations


The oscillation-center Hamiltonian is derived for a relativistic electron injected with an arbitrary momentum in a linearly polarized laser pulse propagating in tenuous plasma, assuming that the pulse length is smaller than the plasma wavelength. For hot electrons generated by collisions with ions under an intense laser drive, multiple regimes of ponderomotive acceleration are identified, and the laser dispersion is shown to affect the process at plasma densities down to 1017 cm-3. We consider the regime when the cold plasma is not accelerated, requiring a/ γg 1, where a is the laser parameter, proportional to the field amplitude, and γg is the group-velocity Lorentz factor. In this case, the Lorentz factor γ of hot electrons does not exceed Γ a γg after acceleration, assuming its initial value also satisfies γ0 Γ. Yet γ∼Γ is attained within a wide range of initial conditions; hence, a cutoff in the hot-electron distribution is predicted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number036404
JournalPhysical Review E - Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 15 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Statistics and Probability


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