THz radiation as a bunch diagnostic for laser-wakefield-accelerated electron bunches
Experimental results are reported from two measurement techniques (semiconductor switching and electro-optic sampling) that allow temporal characterization of electron bunches produced by a laser-driven plasma-based accelerator. As femtosecond electron bunches exit the plasma-vacuum interface, coherent transition radiation (at THz frequencies) is emitted. Measuring the properties of this radiation allows characterization of the electron bunches. Theoretical work on the emission mechanism is represented, including a model that calculates the THz waveform from a given bunch profile. It is found that the spectrum of the THz pulse is coherent up to the 200 mu m thick crystal (ZnTe) detection limit of 4 THz, which corresponds to the production of sub-50 fs (root-mean-square) electron bunch structure. The measurements demonstrate both the shot-to-shot stability of bunch parameters that are critical to THz emission (such as total charge and bunch length), as well as femtosecond synchrotron between bunch, THz pulse, and laser beam.