Abstract

In the study of laser-driven electron acceleration, it has become customary to work within the framework of paraxial wave optics. Using an exact solution to the Helmholtz equation as well as its paraxial counterpart, we perform numerical simulations of electron acceleration with a high-power TM01 beam. For beam waist sizes at which the paraxial approximation was previously recognized valid, we highlight significant differences in the angular divergence and energy distribution of the electron bunches produced by the exact and the paraxial solutions. Our results demonstrate that extra care has to be taken when working under the paraxial approximation in the context of electron acceleration with radially polarized laser beams.

© 2013 Optical Society of America

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