Laser-wakefield electron acceleration

Laser-wakefield electron acceleration (LWFA) has been identified as a revolutionary novel approach to particle acceleration, being in principle able to sustain accelerating fields which are an order of magnitudes higher than those routinely achievable in more conventional radio-frequency accelerators. Recent landmark results include the acceleration of electrons up to 8 GeV in only 20 cm of plasma, the generation of femtosecond-long electron beams, and the demonstration of ultra-compact accelerators. In this lecture, the physics behind LWFA will be discussed, together with an overview of the most recent results in the area and the envisaged step forward.