In a conventional linear accelerator, particles (e,e+) are accelerated by a TM mode in a disk loaded waveguide at a rate of ~20 MV/m. It is well known that the electric fields of high power laser beams can be as high as 1012 V/m. Such an ultrahigh field could be used to accelerate particles if a significant fraction of the transverse electric field of a laser beam could be converted into a longitudinal field propagating almost close to the speed of light. In the laser acceleration scheme known as the plasma beat wave accelerator this is precisely what happens.

© 1989 Optical Society of America

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