Plasma accelerators (Esary et al 2009 Rev. Mod. Phys. 81 1229) are a potentially important source of high energy, low emittance electron beams with high peak currents generated within a relatively short distance. As such, they may have an important application in the driving of coherent light sources such as the Free Electron Laser (FEL) which operate into the x-ray region (McNeil and Thompson 2010 Nat. Photon. 4 814-21). While novel plasma photocathodes (Hidding et al 2012 Phys. Rev. Lett. 108 035001) may offer orders of magnitude improvement to the normalized emittance and brightness of electron beams compared to Radio Frequency-driven accelerators, a substantial challenge is the energy spread and chirp of beams, which can make FEL operation impossible. In this paper it is shown that such an energy-chirped, ultrahigh brightness electron beam, with dynamically evolving current profile due to ballistic bunching at moderate energies, can generate significant coherent radiation output via the process of Coherent Spontaneous Emission (CSE) (Campbell and McNeil 2012 Proc. FEL2012 (Nara, Japan)). While this CSE is seen to cause some FEL-induced electron bunching at the radiation wavelength, the dynamic evolution of the energy chirped pulse dampens out any high-gain FEL interaction. This work may offer the prospect of a future plasma driven FEL operating in the high-gain Self Amplified CSE mode.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy(all)