Controlled High-Repetition Plasma Based Electron Accelerators

Lead Research Organisation: Imperial College London
Department Name: Dept of Physics


The grant proposes development of laser-driven plasma based accelerators both from the fundamental viewpoint, such as demonstrating energy scaling and understanding injection mechanisms, but also proposes technological development of plasma accelerators in areas such as reproducibility and generating ultracompact accelerators. First the already ground-breaking work on state-of-the-art 100 TW scale laser systems will be extended. A complete characterisation of the interaction promises to elucidate the complex set of interactions that lead to mononenergetic electron beam production in this regime. Continuing improvements in the laser parameters promises to extend the energy range obtainable in this scheme to beyond the GeV level, (to which we are already tantalisingly close). We will also study the interaction of the single beam at high intensity (>10^20 Wcm^-2) in underdense plasma (i.e. not in the bubble matched regime as required for high energy mononenergetic beams), by using tighter focusing (~ f/3 as opposed to ~f/20 for monoenergetic beam production) on the same > 100 TW lasers. Though this limits the maximum energy that can be produced, such interactions promise to produce extremely high efficiency of conversion of laser energy into relativistic electrons, and extremely high current density beams. We also propose to extend our studies to more advanced schemes for dephasing and trapping electrons into a wakefield accelerator. A number of different methods will be investigated for reproducibility and low energy spread (which is of utmost importance for many applications). These include density modulation, and optical injection mechanisms. The ability to separate injection and acceleration phase, dramatically reduces the requirements on the driving laser pulse, hence allowing the wakefield to be driven at lower plasma densities, and thus potentially to much higher energy. These experiments will continue to make use of the Astra Gemini laser system at RAL, (which on optimisation should offer twin 15 J laser pulses at 30 fs), the Hercules laser at the Univesity of Michigan (which offers PW powers in an ultrashort pulse), as well as the Lund Laser Centre, which offers the highest beam quality laser at the 1J 30 fs level. The final major aim of this grant will be development towards producing a laser system of ultrashort pulse duration (< 10 fs i.e. ~ few laser cycles) at moderate pulse energy. This will allow high repetition rate operation of compact accelerators to be developed, whilst also opening the possibility of producing an affordable dedicated system for studying compact plasma accelerators. The demonstration of narrow energy spread beams of electrons produced with such a system would have important technological implications.


10 25 50
Description Hosing of a wakefield driving laser pulse
Exploitation Route Uses of plasma accelerators now being investigated
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Agriculture, Food and Drink,Chemicals,Communities and Social Services/Policy,Construction,Creative Economy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Electronics,Energy,Environment,Financial Services, and Management Consultancy,Healthcare,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Government, Democracy and Justice,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections,Pharmace

Description EuPRAXIA
Amount £132,142 (GBP)
Funding ID 653782 
Organisation European Commission 
Department Horizon 2020
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 11/2015 
End 10/2019
Description Marie Sklodowska-Curie Fellowship
Amount £143,619 (GBP)
Organisation European Commission 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 03/2014 
End 05/2016
Description Newton Fellowship
Amount £99,000 (GBP)
Organisation The Royal Society 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2011 
End 12/2013
Description ATF BNL 
Organisation Brookhaven National Laboratory
Department Accelerator Test Facility
Country United States 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Experimental proposals and performing collaborative experiments
Collaborator Contribution Access to state of the art infrared laser facility
Impact Two papers in Physical Review Letters, as well as other minor publications
Start Year 2008
Description Kansai Kyoto 
Organisation National Institutes for Quantum and Radiological Science and Technology
Country Japan 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Participation on experiments on the new J-Karen laser at Kansai Photon Science Institute
Collaborator Contribution Development of new targets for LPI experiments. Suggestion for diagnostics and research themes using the state of the art J-Karen laser
Impact Collaborative experiments and access to world leading facility
Start Year 2017
Description School visit (Charterhouse School) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact A lecture about plasma based acceleration
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011