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Current implementations of DLAs rely on free-space lasers directly incident on the accelerating structures, limiting the scalability and integrability of this technology. Researchers present the first experimental demonstration of a waveguide-integrated DLA, designed using a photonic inverse design approach. These on-chip devices accelerate sub-relativistic electrons of initial energy 83.4 keV by 1.21 keV over 30 µm, providing peak acceleration gradients of 40.3 MeV/m. This progress represents a significant step towards a completely integrated MeV-scale dielectric laser accelerator.
Dielectric laser accelerators have emerged as a promising alternative to conventional RF accelerators due to the large damage threshold of dielectric materials the commercial availability of powerful NIR femtosecond pulsed lasers, and the low-cost high-yield nanofabrication processes which produce them. Together, these advantages allow DLAs to make an impact in the development of applications such as tabletop free-electron-lasers, targeted cancer therapies, and compact imaging sources.