Research ArticlePHYSICS

Extremely brilliant GeV γ-rays from a two-stage laser-plasma accelerator

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Science Advances  29 May 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 22, eaaz7240
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaz7240


Recent developments in laser-wakefield accelerators have led to compact ultrashort X/γ-ray sources that can deliver peak brilliance comparable with conventional synchrotron sources. Such sources normally have low efficiencies and are limited to 107–8 photons/shot in the keV to MeV range. We present a novel scheme to efficiently produce collimated ultrabright γ-ray beams with photon energies tunable up to GeV by focusing a multi-petawatt laser pulse into a two-stage wakefield accelerator. This high-intensity laser enables efficient generation of a multi-GeV electron beam with a high density and tens-nC charge in the first stage. Subsequently, both the laser and electron beams enter into a higher-density plasma region in the second stage. Numerical simulations demonstrate that more than 1012 γ-ray photons/shot are produced with energy conversion efficiency above 10% for photons above 1 MeV, and the peak brilliance is above 1026 photons s−1 mm−2 mrad−2 per 0.1% bandwidth at 1 MeV. This offers new opportunities for both fundamental and applied research.

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