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High-intensityscatteringprocessesofrelativisticelectronsinvacuum

*

F. V. Hartemann

†,a)

Institute for Laser Science and Applications, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore,California 94550 and Department of Applied Science, University of California, Davis, California 95616

Received 18 November 1997; accepted 11 February 1998

Recent advances in novel technologies such as chirped pulse ampliﬁcation and high gradient rf photoinjectors make it possible to study experimentally the interaction of relativistic electrons withultrahigh intensity photon ﬁelds. Femtosecond laser systems operating in the TW–PW range arenow available, as well as synchronized relativistic electron bunches with subpicosecond durationsand THz bandwidths. Ponderomotive scattering can accelerate these electrons with extremely highgradients in a three-dimensional vacuum laser focus. The nonlinear Doppler shift induced byrelativistic radiation pressure in Compton backscattering is shown to yield complex nonlinearspectra which can be modiﬁed by using temporal laser pulse shaping techniques. Colliding laserspulses, where ponderomotive acceleration and Compton backscattering are combined, could alsoyield extremely short wavelength photons. Finally, strong radiative corrections are expected whenthe Doppler-upshifted laser wavelength approaches the Compton scale. These are discussed withinthe context of high ﬁeld classical electrodynamics, a new discipline borne out of the aforementionedinnovations. ©

1998 American Institute of Physics.

S1070-664X

98

95905-5

I.INTRODUCTION

The physics of laser–electron interactions changes dra-matically at relativistic intensities, where the transverse mo-mentum of the charge in the laser wave, as measured inelectron units, exceeds unity. Three fundamental vacuumprocesses are know to occur in this regime: relativistic pon-deromotive scattering,

1

ultrahigh intensity Comptonbackscattering,

2,3

and nonlinear Kapitza–Dirac scattering.

4,5

These interactions correspond to the following geometries:collinear propagation, head-on collision, and electron dif-fraction in a laser standing wave, respectively.If, in addition, the Doppler-shifted laser wavelength, asmeasured in the instantaneous rest frame of the electron, be-comes comparable to the classical electron radius (

r

0

2.8178

10

15

m), strong radiative corrections to theelectron dynamics are expected. This is the case for ultrarela-tivistic electron beams, such as the Stanford Linear Accel-erator Center

SLAC

beam, where the laser ﬁeld can ap-proach the Schwinger critical ﬁeld

6

for pair creation.Because the normalized vector potential and the averagephoton number of the laser pulse are both Lorentz invariant,it is possible to observe the scattering event in a highly rela-tivistic frame where the laser light is Doppler-upshifted toextremely short wavelengths, while its intensity remains ul-trahigh. In this new regime, both nonlinear Doppler shifts

3

and radiation damping

2

dominate the electron dynamics.These effects, as well as three-dimensional

3-D

pondero-motive scattering could play an important role in the physicsof the

–

collider.The physics of the aforementioned radiative correctionsis fundamentally related to the electron self-interaction prob-lem, which is central to the foundations of both classical andquantum electrodynamics

CED and QED

. In the study of CED at high ﬁeld strengths, the Dirac–Lorentz equation

2,7

describes the covariant dynamics of a point charge, includingradiative corrections representing the recoil momentum of the photon ﬁeld interacting with the particle. This effect isassumed to be equivalent to a reaction force connected to theself-interaction of the charge with its electromagnetic ﬁeld.Although the quantum electrodynamical nature of theelectron–photon interaction must be taken into account for afull description of such phenomena, it is hoped that a largeclass of interactions may be appropriately studied within thecontext of high ﬁeld strength CED. In addition, a thoroughunderstanding of that topic is required for a comprehensiveapproach to nonlinear QED. A number of conceptual prob-lems arise within the classical framework, including electro-magnetic mass renormalization, runaway solutions, and pre-acceleration or acausal effects, and must be carefullyaddressed. In QED, the Dirac equation describes the tempo-ral evolution of the wave function of a relativistic spin 1/2particle. At high ﬁeld strengths, the Dirac–Coulomb problemcan be solved exactly, owing in part to the hidden supersym-metry of the problem, but a general treatment of QED intime-dependent external ﬁelds remains to be deﬁned. In par-ticular, multiphoton

nonlinear

Compton scattering has notyet been fully described in terms of the Dirac equation, andthe classical relativistic particle limit remains elusive.

8,9

Fi-nally, one might quote Dirac’s comment

7

concerning theelectron self-interaction: ‘‘...it seems more reasonable to sup-pose that the electron is too simple a thing for the question of the laws governing its structure to arise, and thus quantum

*

Paper qThpI2-2 Bull. Am. Phys. Soc.

42

, 2061

1997

.

†

Invited speaker.

a

Electronic mail: fredh@gregor.llnl.govPHYSICS OF PLASMAS VOLUME 5, NUMBER 5 MAY 1998

20371070-664X/98/5(5)/2037/11/$15.00 © 1998 American Institute of Physics

Downloaded 30 Sep 2009 to 128.112.85.160. Redistribution subject to AIP license or copyright; see http://pop.aip.org/pop/copyright.jsp

mechanics should not be needed for the solution of the dif-ﬁculty.’’Coherent synchrotron radiation in a free-electron laser

FEL

10

has been extensively studied;

11–14

therefore, the fo-cus of this paper will be the interaction of relativistic elec-trons with ultrahigh intensity laser pulses, in vacuum. In Sec.II, I review the relativistic dynamics of a single electronsubjected to the classical electromagnetic ﬁeld of a planewave of arbitrary intensity. The canonical invariants of thesystem are derived, and the spectral properties of the scat-tered light are analyzed. In particular, for circular polariza-tion, I obtain an exact analytical expression for the full non-linear spectrum. Temporal laser pulse shaping is brieﬂydiscussed as an experimental method to increase the contrastbetween the main backscattered line and the nonlinear satel-lites due to the relativistic radiation pressure. Colliding laserspulses, where ponderomotive acceleration and Comptonbackscattering are combined, are also considered and thewavelength scaling of this interaction is derived, showing itspotential to produce extremely high energy photons. 3-D ef-fects are presented in Sec. III. To accurately describe thefocusing and diffraction of the drive laser wave in vacuum,the paraxial propagator approach is used, where the massshell condition

vacuum dispersion relation

is approximatedby a quadratic Taylor expansion in the 4-wave number. Thisapproach proves extremely accurate for any realizable laserfocus, and yields analytical expressions for the ﬁelds. In ad-dition, the gauge condition is satisﬁed exactly everywhere,thus yielding a proper treatment of the axial electromagneticﬁeld components due to wave front curvature. Section IVfocuses on radiative corrections. The Dirac–Lorentz equa-tion is derived using an explicit evaluation of the electronself-interaction, and a classical description of nonlinearCompton scattering is proposed. Finally, conclusions aredrawn in Sec. V.

II.LORENTZ–MAXWELLELECTRODYNAMICS,PLANEWAVETHEORYA.Canonicalinvariants

The electron 4-velocity and 4-momentum are deﬁned as

u

dx

/

d

and

p

m

0

cu

, with

u

u

1. Here,

isthe proper time along the dimensionless electron world line

x

(

). In the absence of radiative corrections,

2,7

the naturallength scale of the problem is the the laser wavelength,

c

/

0

, while time is measured in units of 1/

0

, charge inunits of

e

, and mass in units of

m

0

. Within these basic units,any relevant physical quantity can be normalized by simpledimensionality considerations: For example, momentum isnormalized to

m

0

c

, the 4-vector potential is measured inunits of

m

0

c

/

e

, and the 4-wave number is given in units of

0

/

c

. The energy–momentum transfer equations are drivenby the Lorentz force

du

d

A

A

u

.

1

For plane waves, the 4-vector potential of the laser wave isgiven by

A

0,

A

,

k

x

,

2

where

is the relativistically invariant phase of the travelingwave along the electron trajectory. Choosing

k

(1,0,0,1),with the wave propagating in the

z

direction, we have

d

d

u

z

,

3

which deﬁnes the light-cone variable

, and the 4-momentum transfer equations read

d

u

d

d

A

d

,

4

du

z

d

d

d

u

–

d

A

d

.

5

Equation

5

shows that

is invariant:

0

0

(1

0

);additionally, Eq.

4

is readily integrated to yield the well-known transverse momentum invariant

15

u

A

,

6

and the energy and axial momentum are immediately ob-tained using the fact that the 4-velocity is a unit 4-vector(

2

1

u

2

u

z

2

):

u

z

0

0

A

2

2

1

0

,

7

0

1

A

2

2

1

0

.

8

The quadratic dependence of the energy and axial momen-tum on the 4-vector potential, measured in electron units,distinguishes the relativistic scattering regime, where

A

1. In this regime, the ponderomotive force dominates theelectron dynamics, yielding nonlinear slippage and Dopplershifts.

1,3

Equation

8

also provides a scaling for the maxi-mum energy in a plane wave:

*

/

0

A

2

, for relativisticelectrons. Finally, the electron position is given by

x

(

)

(1/

0

)

u

(

)

d

.

B.Comptonscattering,nonlinearspectra

The focus of this section is the spectral characteristics of the radiation scattered by the accelerated charge. As dis-cussed by Jackson,

15

the distribution of energy radiated perunit solid angle, per unit frequency can be derived by con-sidering the instantaneous radiated power, as described bythe Larmor formula, and applying Parsival’s theorem to ob-tain

d

2

N

¯

,

n

d

¯

d

a

4

2

¯

n

n

exp

i

¯

t

n

–

x

dt

2

,

9

where

¯

is the frequency measured in units of

0

, and

a

1/137.036 is the ﬁne structure constant. The quantity inEq.

9

corresponds to the average radiated photon number.

2038 Phys. Plasmas, Vol. 5, No. 5, May 1998 F. V Hartemann

Downloaded 30 Sep 2009 to 128.112.85.160. Redistribution subject to AIP license or copyright; see http://pop.aip.org/pop/copyright.jsp

Using the phase as the independent variable, one nowhas

d

2

N

¯

,

n

d

¯

d

a

4

2

¯

02

n

n

u

exp

i

¯

z

n

–

x

d

2

.

10

Here, I have used the plane wave invariance of

0

.The most interesting case is the backscattered radiation,where most of the power is radiated and where one obtainsthe maximum relativistic Doppler upshift. In this case,

n

zˆ

,

z

(

)

n

–

x

(

)

2

z

(

),

zˆ

zˆ

u

(

)

A

(

),and Eq.

10

can now be recast in a manifestly covariantway, to read

d

2

N

¯

zˆ

d

¯

d

a

4

2

A

exp

i

A

2

d

d

2

,

11

where I have introduced the normalized Doppler-shifted fre-quency

¯

(1

0

)/(1

0

).The functional dependence of the spectrum is now inde-pendent of

0

, which only sets the frequency scale. This factis not surprising, as it results directly from covariance: Bychanging the reference frame in which the scattering isviewed, one can vary the sign of

0

and go continuouslyfrom the FEL geometry

10

to the laser accelerationgeometry.

16–21

For the FEL, the laser frequency is Dopplerupshifted, while it is downshifted in the second case. In bothcases, the normalized vector potential and the average pho-ton number are conserved as they are both Lorentz invariant.

C.Circularpolarization

Having derived the expression for the nonlinear back-scattered light spectrum for arbitrary polarizations and inten-sities, I will now focus on one important case: circularlypolarized plane waves. In this case, the dimensionless 4-vector potential can be expressed as

A

(

)

A

0

g

(

)

xˆ

sin

yˆ

cos

, which implies that the magnitude of the 4-vector potential varies adiabatically as the pulse inten-sity envelope:

A

A

A

2

(

)

A

02

g

2

(

). A simple physi-cal model for the pulse envelope is given by a hyperbolicsecant, namely

g

(

)

cosh

1

(

/

), so that the electron’saxial position can be determined analytically.

22

In this case,

A

2

d

A

02

cosh

2

d

A

02

1

tanh

,

12

and the nonlinear backscattered spectrum is now propor-tional to

A

0

e

i

A

02

xˆ

cos

yˆ

sin

cosh

exp

i

A

02

tanh

d

2

.

13

This Fourier transform can be evaluated analytically by per-forming two changes of variable;

3

namely, I ﬁrst set

y

e

/

, then

x

(

y

2

1)/(

y

2

1), with the result that

d

2

N

¯

,

zˆ

d

¯

d

a

8

A

02

2

,1,2

iA

02

cosh

2

1

2

,1,2

iA

02

cosh

2

1

2

.

14

Here,

is the degenerate

conﬂuent

hypergeometricfunction,

22

and

12

1

i

(

1)

. The electron dynam-ics are shown in Fig. 1

top

, while the behavior of the non-linear spectral function is illustrated in Fig. 1

bottom

for

5, and different values of

A

0

. Within this context, theonset of nonlinear relativistic spectral effects corresponds to

FIG. 1. Top: behavior of the normalized axial electron position for circularand linear polarizations. Bottom: nonlinear spectral function for circularlypolarized light and different values of

A

0

. In both cases, cosh

2

intensityenvelope,

5.

2039Phys. Plasmas, Vol. 5, No. 5, May 1998 F. V Hartemann

Downloaded 30 Sep 2009 to 128.112.85.160. Redistribution subject to AIP license or copyright; see http://pop.aip.org/pop/copyright.jsp

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