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Kurz, T.; Heinemann, T.; Gilljohann, M. F.; Chang, Y. Y.; Cabadag, J. P. Couperus; Debus, A.; Kononenko, O.; Pausch, R.; Schoebel, S.; Assmann, R. W.; Bussmann, M.; Ding, H.; Goetzfried, J.; Koehler, A.; Raj, G.; Schindler, S.; Steiniger, K.; Zarini, O.; Corde, S.; Doepp, A.; Hidding, B.; Karsch, S.; Schramm, U.; Martinez de la Ossa, A. and Irman, A. (2021): Demonstration of a compact plasma accelerator powered by laser-accelerated electron beams. In: Nature Communications, Vol. 12, No. 1, 2895

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Plasma wakefield accelerators are capable of sustaining gigavolt-per-centimeter accelerating fields, surpassing the electric breakdown threshold in state-of-the-art accelerator modules by 3-4 orders of magnitude. Beam-driven wakefields offer particularly attractive conditions for the generation and acceleration of high-quality beams. However, this scheme relies on kilometer-scale accelerators. Here, we report on the demonstration of a millimeter-scale plasma accelerator powered by laser-accelerated electron beams. We showcase the acceleration of electron beams to 128MeV, consistent with simulations exhibiting accelerating gradients exceeding 100GVm(-1). This miniaturized accelerator is further explored by employing a controlled pair of drive and witness electron bunches, where a fraction of the driver energy is transferred to the accelerated witness through the plasma. Such a hybrid approach allows fundamental studies of beam-driven plasma accelerator concepts at widely accessible high-power laser facilities. It is anticipated to provide compact sources of energetic high-brightness electron beams for quality-demanding applications such as free-electron lasers. Particle accelerators based on laser- or electron-driven plasma waves promise compact sources for relativistic electron bunches. Here, Kurz and Heinemann et al. demonstrate a hybrid two-stage configuration, combining the individual features of both accelerating schemes.

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