Scientific Results

Plasma waves in a different frame

Year: 2020

Authors: Macchi A.

Autors Affiliation: National Institute of Optics, National Research Council (CNR/INO), Adriano Gozzini laboratory, 56124 Pisa, Italy and Enrico Fermi Department of Physics, University of Pisa, 56127 Pisa, Italy

Abstract: A tutorial description of plasma waves in a cold plasma, with emphasis on their application in plasma-based electron accelerators, is presented. The basic physics of linear plasma oscillations and waves and the principle of electron acceleration in a plasma wave are discussed without assuming any previous knowledge of plasma physics. It is shown that estimating key parameters for plasma acceleration such as the maximum or “wave breaking” amplitude and the corresponding energy gained by electrons “surfing” the wave requires a relativistic and nonlinear analysis. This can be done with little mathematical complexity by using a Lorentz transformation to a frame co-moving at the phase velocity of the wave. The transformation reduces the problem to a second-order ordinary differential equation as originally found by Chian [Plasma Phys. 21, 509 (1979)] so that the analysis can exploit the analogy with the mechanical motion of a particle in a potential well.

Journal/Review: AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PHYSICS

Volume: 88      Pages from: 723  to: 733

KeyWords: plasma waves, plasma accelerators, nonlinear waves
DOI: 10.1119/10.0001431

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