SUSSP68 International Summer School in Laser-Plasma Interactions and Applications

Lead Research Organisation: University of Strathclyde
Department Name: Physics


This proposal is for partial funding of an international Summer School on 'Laser-Plasma Interactions and Applications' to be held from 15 to 27 August 2011 at the University of Strathclyde. The School is the 68th in the Scottish Universities Summer Schools in Physics (SUSSP) series and the 7th on the topic of laser-plasma interactions. The last held on this topic took place in 2005. The School will also be run as part of the established NATO Advanced Studies Institute (ASI) series and is aimed at young researchers in the final years of their PhD or the early years of post-doctoral research. It is planned to host around 80 national and international students over a 12-day period and provide 38 lectures by 16 lecturers. Additional activities (numerical simulation and knowledge transfer workshops, panel discussions and a poster session) will also be provided. The school will bring together leading experts from Europe, the USA, Russia and Israel to lecture on the fundamental and applied aspects of high power laser-plasma physics. It will begin with an overview and the theory of the interactions of intense laser radiation with matter. The physics of laser-plasma accelerators will be covered in detail, including recent progress and potential applications. Cross disciplinary topics including applications to industry, medicine and security, and other areas of science including high field science and nuclear physics will also be addressed. The physics of inertial confinement fusion and its potential as an energy source will be covered, including the fast ignition approach. The school will also include other aspects of EPSRC-funded plasma physics research including, for example, plasma instabilities and materials for fusion reactors. The proposed comprehensive training that will be offered by the School could not be effectively provided by individual institutions. No comparable training programme exists with this level of coverage of laser-plasma interactions and applications. There is a strategic need for training in this area, with the establishment of EPSRC-funded research consortia on laser-plasma accelerators (Alpha-X and LIBRA), the UK-led HiPER laser-fusion project and the Extreme Light Infrastructure, ELI, which is currently being set up.

Planned Impact

The proposed training school will positively impact not only the academic research community, both also UK industry and the wider public in general. The benefits to UK industry are primarily in the form of training of potential employees. Many PhD students in the field of high power laser plasma physics are recruited by AWE plc and by UK companies specialising in laser and diagnostic technology. The training facilitated by the school will help to satisfy recruitment requirements of UK industry for skilled scientists in this research area. The ORION high power laser project under development at AWE Aldermaston is driving recruitment of skilled laser plasma scientists in an area of strategic importance to the UK. SUSSP68 will help develop potential employees with a broad perspective of laser-plasma physics. The SUSSP68 Organisation Committee has engaged UK industry at an early stage in planning the summer school. Many companies will send representatives to engage with the students and advertise career opportunities. The committee will continue to engage UK industry in SUSSP68, before, during and after the school to ensure that information on potential career opportunities continues to be available to students even long after the school has finished. The wider public in general will also benefit from the summer school on a number of levels. Members of the public will benefit from dissemination of research during the school in the form of an open lecture on Prospects for Inertial Fusion as an Energy Source. In the longer term there are likely to be substantial benefits for society through the development of inertial fusion energy sources and laser-plasma based particle and radiation sources with potential applications in health (e.g. laser-driven ion oncology) and security (e.g. radiation sources for the detection of illicit materials). The training provided by the school will help young scientists contribute to research developments specifically in these areas and some of these students may go on develop scientific careers and to take on leadership roles in these research areas. The training provided by the proposed school will provide a lasting positive impact on these researchers. Upon completion of the summer school the proceedings will be published in the form of a textbook by the academic publishers Taylor and Francis. This textbook will ensure wide dissemination of the material developed and taught in the summer school, and will provide a lasting record of the outcomes of SUSSP68 in a way that beneficiaries will be able to understand and use.


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