Indexed on: 02 Dec '00Published on: 02 Dec '00Published in: Physical review letters
To achieve multi-GeV electron energies in the laser wakefield accelerator (LWFA) it is necessary to propagate an intense laser pulse long distances in plasma without disruption. A 3D envelope equation for a laser pulse in a tapered plasma channel is derived, which includes wakefields and relativistic and nonparaxial effects, such as finite pulse length and group velocity dispersion. It is shown that electron energies of approximately GeV in a plasma-channel LWFA can be achieved by using short pulses where the forward Raman and modulation nonlinearities tend to cancel. Further energy gain can be achieved by tapering the plasma density to reduce electron dephasing.