Research Papers in Physics and Astronomy


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Published by American Physical Society. Phys. Rev. Lett. 95, 035004 (2005). Copyright © 2005 American Physical Society. Permission to use.


The interaction of a laser-produced electron beam with an ultraintense laser pulse in free space is studied. We show that the optical pulse with a0=0.5 imparts momentum to the electron beam, causing it to deflect along the laser propagation direction. The observed 3-degree angular deflection is found to be independent of polarization and in good agreement with a theoretical model for the interaction of free electrons with a tightly focused Gaussian pulse, but only when longitudinal fields are taken into account. This technique is used to temporally characterize a subpicosecond laser-wakefield-driven electron bunch. Applications to electron-beam conditioning are also discussed.

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