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Development of quantum electrodynamical (QED) cascades in a standing electromagnetic wave for circular and linear polarizations is simulated numerically with a 3D PIC-MC code. It is demonstrated that for the same laser energy the number of particles produced in a circularly polarized field is greater than in a linearly polarized field, though the acquiring mean energy per particle is larger in the latter case. The qualitative model of laser-assisted QED cascades is extended by including the effect of polarization of the field. It turns out that cascade dynamics is notably more complicated in the case of linearly polarized field, where separation into the qualitatively different “electric” and “magnetic” regions (where the electric field is stronger than the magnetic field and vice versa) becomes essential. In the “magnetic” regions, acceleration is suppressed, and moreover the high-energy electrons are even getting cooled by photon emission. The volumes of the “electric” and “magnetic” regions evolve periodically in time and so does the cascade growth rate. In contrast to the linear polarization, the charged particles can be accelerated by circularly polarized wave even in “magnetic region.” The “electric” and “magnetic” regions do not evolve in time, and cascade growth rate almost does not depend on time for circular polarization.


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