Prospects and limitations of wakefield acceleration in solids
Journal article, 2018
Advances in the generation of relativistic intensity pulses with wavelengths in the X-ray regime, through high harmonic generation from near-critical plasmas, open up the possibility of X-ray driven wakefield acceleration. The similarity scaling laws for laser plasma interaction suggest that X-rays can drive wakefields in solid materials providing TeV/cm gradients, resulting in electron and photon beams of extremely short duration. However, the wavelength reduction enhances the quantum parameter χ, hence opening the question of the role of non-scalable physics, e.g., the effects of radiation reaction. Using three dimensional Particle-In-Cell simulations incorporating QED effects, we show that for the wavelength λ=5 nm and relativistic amplitudes a0=10-100, similarity scaling holds to a high degree, combined with χ∼1 operation already at moderate a0∼50, leading to photon emissions with energies comparable to the electron energies. Contrasting to the generation of photons with high energies, the reduced frequency of photon emission at X-ray wavelengths (compared with that at optical wavelengths) leads to a reduction in the amount of energy that is removed from the electron population through radiation reaction. Furthermore, as the emission frequency approaches the laser frequency, the importance of radiation reaction trapping as a depletion mechanism is reduced, compared with that at optical wavelengths for a 0 leading to similar χ.