Dynamics of the wakefield of a multi-petawatt, femtosecond laser pulse in a configuration with ultrarelativistic electrons Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • The wakefield excitation in an unmagnetized plasma by a multi-petawatt, femtosecond, pancake-shaped laser pulse is described both analytically and numerically in the regime with ultrarelativistic electron jitter velocities, when the plasma electrons are almost expelled from the pulse region. This is done, for the first time, in fluid theory, using a novel mathematical model that does not break down for very intense pump strengths, in contrast to the standard approach that uses the laser field envelope and the ponderomotive guiding center averaging. A three-timescale description is introduced, with the intermediate scale associated with the nonlinear phase of the electromagnetic wave and with the bending of its wave front. The evolution of the pulse and of its electrostatic wake are studied by the numerical solution in a two-dimensional geometry, with the spot diameter ≳ 100 μm. It has revealed that the nonlocal plasma response stretches very short pulses and that those with the length of 1-2 laser wavelengths, favored by the analytic estimates obtained in the local limit, are unstable. The optimum initial pulse length exceeds 1.5-2 μm. © EPLA, 2014.

author list (cited authors)

  • Jovanović, D., Fedele, R., & Belić, M.

citation count

  • 4

publication date

  • August 2014