We report on the behaviour of electron beams extracted from metal cathodes illuminated by a powerful XeCl-laser beam. The target materials used were Zn, Y and Ge. During the electron extraction a plasma was created on the target surface. At high laser energies and high accelerating voltages the plasma introduces an impedance into the cathode-anode region. Owing to the plasma formation short-circuits occur in the accelerating region thus limiting the maximum output current. Under our experimental conditions, a laser energy of 27 mJ and 3 mm of distance cathode-anode, a maximum output corrent density of about 4.9 A/cm2 was obtained with the Zn cathode. The yttrium target may provide a higher current density but so far it could not be demonstrated due to plasma formation which short-circuits the anode-cathode region. The experimental results obtained with Ge targets are interesting for obtaining short electron pulses.
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