Indexed on: 04 Jun '12Published on: 04 Jun '12Published in: Physics - Plasma Physics
The transverse self-modulation of ultra-relativistic, long lepton bunches in high-density plasmas is explored through full-scale particle-in-cell simulations. We demonstrate that long SLAC-type electron and positron bunches can become strongly self-modulated over centimeter distances, leading to wake excitation in the blowout regime with accelerating fields in excess of 20 GV/m. We show that particles energy variations exceeding 10 GeV can occur in meter-long plasmas. We find that the self-modulation of positively and negatively charged bunches differ when the blowout is reached. Seeding the self-modulation instability suppresses the competing hosing instability. This work reveals that a proof-of-principle experiment to test the physics of bunch self-modulation can be performed with available lepton bunches and with existing experimental apparatus and diagnostics.