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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Development of high gradient laser wakefield accelerators towards nuclear detection applications at LBNL

  • Author(s): Geddes, Cameron GR
  • et al.

Compact high-energy linacs are important to applications including monochromatic gamma sources for nuclear material security applications. Recent laser wakefield accelerator experiments at LBNL demonstrated narrow energy spread beams, now with energies of up to 1 GeV in 3 cm using a plasma channel at low density. This demonstrates the production of GeV beams from devices much smaller than conventional linacs, and confirms the anticipated scaling of laser driven accelerators to GeV energies. Stable performance at 0.5 GeV was demonstrated. Experiments and simulations are in progress to control injection of particles into the wake and hence to improve beam quality and stability. Using plasma density gradients to control injection, stable beams at 1 MeV over days of operation, and with an order of magnitude lower absolute momentum spread than previously observed, have been demonstrated. New experiments are post-accelerating the beams from controlled injection experiments to increase beam quality and stability. Thomson scattering from such beams is being developed to provide collimated multi-MeV monoenergetic gamma sources for security applications from compact devices. Such sources can reduce dose to target and increase accuracy for applications including photofission and nuclear resonance fluorescence.

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