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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Wakefield-induced ionization injection in beam-driven plasma accelerators

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We present a detailed analysis of the features and capabilities of Wakefield-Induced Ionization (WII) injection in the blowout regime of beam driven plasma accelerators. This mechanism exploits the electric wakefields to ionize electrons from a dopant gas and trap them in a well-defined region of the accelerating and focusing wake phase, leading to the formation of high-quality witness-bunches [Martinez de la Ossa et al., Phys. Rev. Lett. 111, 245003 (2013)]. The electron-beam drivers must feature high-peak currents (Ib0 ≳ 8.5 kA) and a duration comparable to the plasma wavelength to excite plasma waves in the blowout regime and enable WII injection. In this regime, the disparity of the magnitude of the electric field in the driver region and the electric field in the rear of the ion cavity allows for the selective ionization and subsequent trapping from a narrow phase interval. The witness bunches generated in this manner feature a short duration and small values of the normalized transverse emittance (kpσz ∼ kpn ∈ 0.1). In addition, we show that the amount of injected charge can be adjusted by tuning the concentration of the dopant gas species, which allows for controlled beam loading and leads to a reduction of the total energy spread of the witness beams. Electron bunches, produced in this way, fulfil the requirements to drive blowout regime plasma wakes at a higher density and to trigger WII injection in a second stage. This suggests a promising new concept of self-similar staging of WII injection in steps with increasing plasma density, giving rise to the potential of producing electron beams with unprecedented energy and brilliance from plasma-wakefield accelerators.

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