Space-charge effects in ultrahigh current electron bunches generated by laser-plasma accelerators

F. J. Grüner, C. B. Schroeder, A. R. Maier, S. Becker, J. M. Mikhailova

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Recent advances in laser-plasma accelerators, including the generation of GeV-scale electron bunches, enable applications such as driving a compact free-electron laser (FEL). Significant reduction in size of the FEL is facilitated by the expected ultrahigh peak beam currents (10-100 kA) generated in laser-plasma accelerators. At low electron energies such peak currents are expected to cause space-charge effects such as bunch expansion and induced energy variations along the bunch, potentially hindering the FEL process. In this paper we discuss a self-consistent approach to modeling space-charge effects for the regime of laser-plasma-accelerated ultracompact electron bunches at low or moderate energies. Analytical treatments are considered as well as point-to-point particle simulations, including the beam transport from the laser-plasma accelerator through focusing devices and the undulator. In contradiction to non-self-consistent analyses (i.e., neglecting bunch evolution), which predict a linearly growing energy chirp, we have found the energy chirp reaches a maximum and decreases thereafter. The impact of the space-charge induced chirp on FEL performance is discussed and possible solutions are presented.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number020701
JournalPhysical Review Special Topics - Accelerators and Beams
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 17 2009
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics
  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)
  • Surfaces and Interfaces


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