Skip to Main Content
A general discussion of the free-electron lasers (FEL's) with variable parameter wigglers is presented with a view towards their potential for the production of high power optical radiation at reasonable efficiency. The theoretical analysis is based upon a one-dimensional relativistic Hamiltonian formulation and is developed in a manner to take advantage of the analogy between the FEL process and radio frequency accelerators. Three promising operational modes are identified and analyzed. The first may be thought of as an electron decelerator and is thought to have the most promise for single-pass devices. Both oscillator and amplifier configurations are studied. The second is based upon adiabatic trapping and detrapping, intended to reduce the spread in electron energy typically induced by the FEL process. The third is based upon the method of phase area displacement. It has the advantage of wide gain bandwidth and small induced energy spread, and is thought to have the most promise for storage ring applications. Generally speaking, it is found that high peak power is intrinsic to these modes of operation. Potential problems from parasitic oscillations analogous to the stimulated Raman effect are analyzed, and some others arising from transverse inhomogeneity are identified.