Collective ion acceleration via laser controlled ionization channel
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Initial results from a successful laser-controlled collective ion acceleration experiment at the University of Maryland are presented. In the experiment, positive ions are trapped in the potential well at the head of an intense relativistic electron beam injected at current levels above the space charge limit. Seed ions for acceleration are provided by puff valve injection of a neutral gas cloud localized to within 3 cm of the injection point. Control over the acceleration of the well and the ions is then achieved by means of a laser-generated ionization channel produced by passing the light from a O-switched ruby laser though a series of partially and fully reflecting mirrors in such a way as to provide time-sequenced laser ionization of a target located on the drift tube wall. Using this system, controlled acceleration of protons at a rate of approximately 40 MV/m has been demonstrated over a distance of about 50 cm.
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