Coherent synchrotron radiation may lead to a microwave instability on an electron bunch at wavelengths much smaller than the bunch length. It is possible that ripples (prebunching) on the electron bunch distribution may seed this instability. We report on research exploring this effect using a longitudinally modulated drive laser to generate a modulated electron beam. Our first step is to develop simulations that will help us study the beam generation process using PARMELA. Preliminary experiments on laser beam and electron beam modulation, conducted at the Source Development Laboratory at the National Synchrotron Light Source, show modulation at frequencies in the terahertz regime is attainable. Longitudinal prebunching may enhance the performance of FEL or other radiative devices in the terahertz regime. Alternatively, longitudinal control over the electron beam might be an effective method of suppressing coherent synchrotron radiation instabilities that cause beam break-up. © 2003 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
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