Overcoming the dephasing limit in multiple-pulse laser wakefield acceleration

James D. Sadler, Christopher Arran, Hui Li, Kirk A. Flippo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The electric field in laser-driven plasma wakefield acceleration is orders of magnitude higher than conventional radio-frequency cavities, but the energy gain is limited by dephasing between the ultra-relativistic electron bunch and the wakefield, which travels at the laser group velocity. We present a way to overcome this limit within a single plasma stage. The amplitude of the wakefield behind a train of laser pulses can be controlled in-flight by modulating the density profile. This creates a succession of resonant laser-plasma accelerator sections and non-resonant drift sections, within which the wakefield disappears and the electrons rephase. A two-dimensional particle-in-cell simulation with four 2.5TW laser pulses produces a 50MeV electron energy gain, four times that obtained from a uniform plasma. Although laser red-shift prevents operation in the blowout regime, the technique offers increased energy gain for accelerators limited to the linear regime by the available laser power. This is particularly relevant for laser-plasma x-ray sources capable of operating at high repetition rates, which are highly sought after.
Original languageEnglish
Article number021303
Number of pages7
JournalPhysical Review Accelerators and Beams
Issue number02
Publication statusPublished - 21 Feb 2020


  • physics.acc-ph
  • physics.plasm-ph

Cite this