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Cardenas, D. E.; Chou, S.; Wallin, E.; Xu, J.; Hofmann, L.; Buck, A.; Schmid, K.; Rivas, D. E.; Shen, B.; Gonoskov, A.; Marklund, M.; Veisz, L. (2020): Electron bunch evolution in laser-wakefield acceleration. In: Physical Review Accelerators and Beams, Vol. 23, No. 11, 112803
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We report on systematic and high-precision measurements of the evolution of electron beams in a laser-wakefield accelerator (LWFA). Utilizing shock-front injection, a technique providing stable, tunable and high-quality electron bunches, acceleration and deceleration of few-MeV quasimonoenergetic beams were measured with cutting-edge technology sub-5-fs and 8-fs laser pulses. We explain the observations with dephasing, an effect that fundamentally limits the performance of LWFAs. Typical density dependent electron energy evolution with 57-300 mu m dephasing length and 6-20 MeV peak energy was observed and is well described by a parabolic fit. This is a promising electron source for time-resolved few-fs electron diffraction.