Laser plasma acceleration has been intensely investigated for its ability to produce energetic, ultrashort electron bunches in a compact distance. A high intensity laser pulse propagating through a plasma expels the electrons from the optical axis via the ponderomotive force, leaving behind a column of ions and driving a density wake. The accelerating electric fields present in the wake can reach several orders of magnitude greater than those found in radio-frequency cavities, allowing for compact systems much smaller than those using conventional accelerators. This compact source can provide electrons for various applications including stages for a high energy collider or for production of x-ray pulses from coherent undulator radiation. However, these applications require tunable, stable and high-quality electron beams.
We report on a study of controlled injection along a shock-induced density downramp of laser-plasma- accelerated electrons through precision tailoring of the density profile produced from a mm-scale gas jet. Using BELLA Center’s TREX Ti:Sapphire laser, the effects of the plasma density profile and the tilt of the shock front on the beam spatial profile, steering, and energy were investigated experimentally. To explain these rela- tionships, we propose simple models which agree well with experimental results. Using this technique, electron beam quality was tailored, allowing for the production of high-quality electron beams with percent-level energy spreads over a range of energies.