Diagnostics for the Texas Petawatt laser-plasma accelerator

Du, Dongsu, 1985-
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Since 2004, table-top laser-plasma accelerators (LPAs) driven by ˜30fs terwatt laser pulses have produced colimated, nearly mono-energetic eletron bunches with energy up to 1 GeV in laboratories around the world. Large-scale computer simulations show that LPAs can scale to higher energy while retaining high beam quality, but will require laser pulses of higher energy and longer duration than current LPAs. The group of Prof. Mike Downer, in collaboration with the Texas Petawatt (TPW) laser team headed by Prof. Todd Ditmire, is setting up an experiment that uses the TPW laser (1.1 PW, 150 fs) to drive the world’s first multi-GeV LPA. This thesis provides a general overview of the TPW-LPA project, including several diagnostic systems for the beam, plasma and laser pulse. Special attention is given to three of the diagnostic systems: (1)A transverse interferometry diagnostic of the plasma density profile created by the TPW laser pulse; (2)A Thomson scattering diagnostic of the self-guided path of the TPW laser pulse through the plasma; (3)An optical transition radiation diagnostic of the accelerated electron bunch exiting the plasma. In each case, basic principles, theoretical background, calculation and simulation results, and preliminary experimental results will be presented.