Lab in a bubble

Lead Research Organisation: University of Strathclyde
Department Name: Physics

Abstract

The lab in a bubble project is a timely investigation of the interaction of charged particles with radiation inside and in the vicinity of relativistic plasma bubbles created by intense ultra-short laser pulses propagating in plasma. It builds on recent studies carried out by the ALPHA-X team of coherent X-ray radiation from the laser-plasma wakefield accelerator and high field effects where radiation reaction becomes important. The experimental programme will be carried out using high power lasers and investigate new areas of physics where single-particle and collective radiation reaction and quantum effects become important, and where non-linear coupling and instabilities between beams, laser, plasma and induced fields develop, which result in radiation and particle beams with unique properties. Laser-plasma interactions are central to all problems studied and understanding their complex and often highly non-linear interactions gives a way of controlling the bubble and beams therein. To investigate the rich range of physical processes, advanced theoretical and experimental methods will be applied and advantage will be taken of know-how and techniques developed by the teams. New analytical and numerical methods will be developed to enable planning and interpreting results from experiments. Advanced experimental methods and diagnostics will be developed to probe the bubble and characterise the beams and radiation. An important objective will be to apply the radiation and beams in selected proof-of-concept applications to the benefit of society.
The project is involves a large group of Collaborators and Partners, who will contribute to both theoretical and experimental work. The diverse programme is managed through a synergistic approach where there is strong linkage between work-packages, and both theoretical and experiential methodologies are applied bilaterally: experiments are informed by theory at planning and data interpretation stages, and theory is steered by the outcome of experimental studies, which results in a virtuous circle that advances understanding of the physics inside and outside the lab in a bubble. We also expect to make major advances in high field physics and the development of a new generation of compact coherent X-ray sources.

Planned Impact

The impact of the research will be wide ranging, from pure academic research to advancing the field and exploring new regimes arising from moving into new parameter domains. In addition to new opportunities in basic research, there are numerous new applications, some of which could have a very high impact e.g. holography of macro-molecules, radiotherapy, nuclear fusion, imaging of dense matter, medical radio-isotope production. Basic research will feed into applications and deliver benefits to industry and ultimately the UK economy. Indirectly, trained scientists may find their way into industry. By setting a high standard for the research, and publishing in high impact journals, the groups will become more competitive in a rapidly growing area of research that has many potential applications. A multi-disciplinary approach will develop flexibility to tackle challenging problems and be attractive to international projects, thus allowing the team to engage with and lead international projects.

The availability of an ultra-compact, ultra-short pulsed coherent X-ray source would have a very large impact on research. The impact would be multifarious - attosecond pulses would enable time-resolved studies that resolve electron motion. A soft X-ray source would resolve chemical dynamics i.e. changes in electronic structure associated with chemical reactions, in particular photochemical reactions (molecular electronics, optical sensors, photoactive proteins and photosynthesis). Attosecond pulses would allow monitoring of transitions fundamental to chemistry for the first time.

A compact X-ray wavelength source would enable much of the physics, chemistry and biological studies that are usually investigated using X-ray free-electron lasers (FELs) to be carried out with a much more compact source, which would make these powerful tools more widely available. The demand for FEL beam-time is extremely high. This would be alleviated by more available and compact sources. The group has applied for a patent and will pursue commercialisation of the compact coherent X-ray source if successful. This may lead to a huge impact and benefit to the UK economy. Academia and industry are likely to gain from the development of more compact coherent radiation sources. A compact coherent X-ray source would have a major impact on the pharmaceuticals industry and health care because reduced cost would make them more widely available.
The most important dissemination paths enhancing the profile of the research in the academic community will be through publishing the outcomes of the research in high impact journals and presenting the work at national and international conferences.

The output of the research will have longer term but significant impact. As one of the objectives is application of the technology in radiotherapy and imaging, it could have a high impact on the quality of life of cancer patients. There is a demand for improving cancer therapy. Particle therapy is currently seen as a possible route to improving treatment of certain types of cancer, particularly in young children. Compact accelerators and radiation sources could have impact on diagnosis of illnesses, e.g. by enabling on-site production of PET radioisotopes and other tracers.

Recent reports have identified an impending acute shortage of medical radioisotopes because of the imminent decommissioning of reactors. Compact gamma-ray sources could have an impact on the detection of explosives, which would contribute global security. Imaging of stored nuclear waste could also have an impact on the legacy of nuclear power generation.

Employers will benefit from skilled workforce trained in a multidisciplinary environment. The immediate beneficiaries will be academic institutes, industry, NHS and government laboratories, but it is anticipated that the broad skills gained could be transferred to a diverse range of career pathways.

Organisations

Publications

10 25 50

publication icon
Burton D (2016) Axionic suppression of plasma wakefield acceleration in Journal of Physics A: Mathematical and Theoretical

publication icon
Capdessus R (2016) Role of momentum and velocity for radiating electrons in Physical Review D

publication icon
Goto S (2016) The dynamics of compact laser pulses in Journal of Physics A: Mathematical and Theoretical

publication icon
Gratus J (2019) Maxwell's ( D, H ) excitation fields: lessons from permanent magnets in European Journal of Physics

publication icon
Gratus J (2018) The correct and unusual coordinate transformation rules for electromagnetic quadrupoles. in Proceedings. Mathematical, physical, and engineering sciences

publication icon
Gratus J (2017) Subwavelength mode profile customization using functional materials in Journal of Physics Communications

 
Description Intense radiation source in the X-ray photon energy discovered.
Demonstrated a very high current mode of operation of the laser-plasma accelerator, which can produce 10s on nC charged bunches of several MeV energies. Paper published on this work. These beams are emitted at an oblique angle. They indicate that many of the measurements of high energy electrons in a laser wakefield accelerator may not in injected in the accelerator bubble structure but are sheath electrons that are not trapped. This study also shows that laser wakefield accelerators based on capillaries may not work because a large amount of the laser energy is dumped in the walls of the capillary, which could lead to damage.This work has been followed up by a study of coherent transition radiation when the high charge electron beams pass through a thin foil, or at the plasma-vacuum boundary. A manuscript has been submitted for publication and is currently under review.
We have undertaken a study of the generation of a plasma dipole using colliding pulses in plasma, which generates intense terahertz radiation. this work has been published.
We have also developed a new theory on injection of attosecond electron bunches in the laser wakefield accelerator. We have measured narrow bandwidth XUV radiation from a laser wakefield accelerator driven undulator, which indicates that ultra-short XUV pulses are possible, which would rival the free-electron laser in pulse duration and approach it in peak brilliance.
Exploitation Route The production of high charged beams could find use a radiology studies and imaging. We have demonstrated two methods of producing intense terahertz radiation from plasma, which could have use as a tool for scientists.
With experimental demonstration following our theoretical work (work in progress) ultra-short electron bunches could be used as a driver of an ultrashort pulsed radiation source in the XUV extending to the water window and with durations of the order of 100 attoseconds. If successfully demonstrated (our next step) it could enable a new generation of ultra-short pulsed radiation sources in the XUV.
Sectors Electronics,Energy,Environment,Healthcare,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology,Security and Diplomacy

URL http://alpha-x.phys.strath.ac.uk/
 
Description We won an Impact Acceleration Award to study X-ray diffraction in collaboration with the Strathclyde Catapult Advanced Forming Research Centre (AFRC). X-ray imaging of grain structures and defects in metal alloys in manufacturing using laser-plasma wakefield accelerator (LWFA) source at Scottish Centre for the Application of Plasma-based Accelerators (SCAPA). The project aims to develop advanced measurement and characterisation techniques for the alloys manufacturing processes. The project aims to demonstrate potential applications of the LWFA source at SCAPA to X-ray imaging of alloy structures. It provides the route for the collaboration between SCAPA and AFRC in X-ray imaging and will seed future collaboration projects for the development of X-ray imaging at SCAPA. Such future developments will enable AFRC and its industrial partners to make the advanced X-ray imaging techniques directly accessible at University of Strathclyde. In addition it will expand capabilities of SCAPA facilities to measurement techniques for material. The EPSRC Impact Accelerator Account grant has supported the development of our commercialisation plan. We held an investor/industrial workshop (21st-22nd May 2018) that identified potential routes to market. Delegates included experts from defence and security, nuclear and healthcare markets. Leonardo MW ltd, IRP Technology, Cavendish Nuclear, Advanced Nuclear Research Centre, M-squared laser, Thales, DSTL, SCAPA, Scottish Enterprise and Univ. of Leeds were present at the meeting. This workshop has supported the development of a pre-spin out business plan and has allowed us to complete stage 3/5 of the University of Strathclyde gateway process for company formation. With support from Scottish Enterprise and the University we employed (part-time) a business development manager to propel our commercialisation strategy forward. We have identified 'beach-head' markets and liaising with the BDM we are currently performing primary and secondary research, building a key stake-holder map and routes to market. We have submitted DASA rapid impact proposal to support proof of concept investigations that will lead to prototype development. Compact laser plasma accelerators will ensure rapid and efficient imaging of cargo containers improving UK transport infrastructure and capabilities. Our laser plasma technology supports the UK strategy for Nuclear decommissioning, where Geological Disposal Facilities located ~ 1km underground will be built for safe storage of nuclear waste. Compact LPAs units can be integrated into Geological Disposal Facilities to monitor and determine the structural integrity of waste barrels. Alternative technology use cosmic muons for tomography of nuclear waste barrels. However, at the depths the muon flux will be significantly attenuated. Very High Energy Electron (VHEEs) research is developed into several applications such as radiotherapy, imaging and dosimetry. Distinct features of LWFA driven VHEE would be of particular interest for treating deep seated tumours with innovative ways of dose delivery and verification which can improve the precision of radiotherapy. Current research projects are focused on the development of imaging method for in vivo verification of VHEE therapy. This imaging technique is similar in nature to the positron emission tomography (PET) which is commonly used in proton therapy, however the accuracy in the dose detection algorithm which compensates for tissue inhomogeneities and the resolution can be further improved for VHEEs compared with protons. The another area of investigation includes design of compact LWFAs for treatment of tumours with several distinct beam entrances within the same radiotherapy session and focused beam which can perform precise treatment in terms of doses delivered to skin and surrounding healthy tissues. Focused beams create a possibility to deliver VHEE therapy in a scanning mode with the additional reduction of costs compared with proton therapy. For the practical implementation of VHEE therapy in the future (focused beams, scanning and multi-directional beams) reliable detectors and protocols for performing dosimetry and concepts of VHEEs are developed as part of the international collaborations (NPL, PTB, CERN).
First Year Of Impact 2018
Sector Environment,Healthcare,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology,Security and Diplomacy
 
Description Standard mode grant request
Amount £4,455,071 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/N028694/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2016 
End 03/2020
 
Title Generation of intense coherent THz, XUV and X-ray radiation 
Description We are developing coherent radiation sources based on laser-plasma interactions and are investigating several novel methods. One method uses the plasma bubble as an X-ray radiation sources, while the other uses a pre-formed plasma ion channel as a wiggler. We are also investigating using the high charge electron bunches that are emitted from the plasma bubble as a means of producing very high energy (relativity) THz pulses. We are also exploring using plasma dipoles excited using counter-propagating pulses in plasma as an efficient source of THz radiation. The Z-ray/XUV pulses have durations of attoseconds to femtoseconds. The THz pulses are either single to a few cycle duration. The radiation pulses are intrinsically synchronised with the driving laser pulses. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2017 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact Could provide powerful tools for scientists and technologists. 
 
Title Challenges of Dosimetry of Ultra-Short Pulsed Very High Energy Electron Beams 
Description This dataset contains theoretical and experimental results of the Challenges of Dosimetry of Ultra-Short Pulsed Very High Energy Electron Beams Further details are available in the readme file. Data embargo until 01/05/18 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2017 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Unknown 
 
Title Comparison of stochastic and deterministic electron motion in an intense laser pulse 
Description This dataset provides a comparison between the classical Landau-Lifshitz theory; a semi-classical extension to it; and a stochastic single photon emission model. The stochastic model has been averaged over 10,000 initially-identical electrons. Electrons with an initial Lorentz factor \gamma = 500 (around 250 MeV) are collided head on with a 10-cycle (27 fs) circularly-polarised laser pulse with a_0 = 200, modelled by a plane wave. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2017 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Unknown 
 
Title Data for: "High-energy coherent terahertz radiation emitted by wide-angle electron beams from a laser-wakefield accelerator" 
Description "This datasets contains simulation results describing the emission of terahertz radiation from wide-angle electron beams emitted by a laser wakefield accelerator. Further details are available in the readme file. Data embargo until 16/09/18" 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact
 
Title Data for: "Towards Attosecond High-Energy Electron Bunches: Controlling Self-Injection in Laser Wakefield Accelerators through Plasma Density Modulation" 
Description EPOCH PIC code input decks for the simulations used to demonstrate controlled injection using the model detailed in the linked research paper. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2017 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Unknown 
 
Title Interaction angle dependence of stochastic photon emission in the collision of electrons with intense focussed laser pulses 
Description This dataset provides example trajectories for electrons colliding with a high-intensity focussed laser pulse using a stochastic single-photon emission model for radiation reaction. Along with these, the final properties for an enemble of 1000 initially-identical electrons is provided for interaction angles varying from 0 to 150 degrees. The data files themselves are described in the attached README.txt file. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2017 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Unknown 
 
Title Laser plasma based space radiation reproduction in the laboratory 
Description Presentation of the raw data sets from the two experimental campaign of optocouplers irradiation using particles from laser-plasma accelerators. These data lead to an accepted publication in Scientific Reports 2017. A README file is provided for a detailed structure of the dataset. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2017 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact n/a 
 
Title Laser-driven QED cascade saturation and electron-positron jet formation 
Description Details of the files uploaded are described in the Readme file provided and explain how the figures and data presented in a manuscript titled ""QED cascade saturation and electron-positron jet formation from a laser-irradiated thin foil"" are produced. Data embargo until 01/03/18 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2017 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Unknown 
 
Title Single-stage plasma-based correlated energy spread compensation for ultrahigh 6D brightness electron beams 
Description This data set contains the raw data from the theoretical analysis and particle-in-cell simulation. A README file is provided for a detailed description of the data set. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2017 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Unknown 
 
Title Three electron beams from a laser-plasma wakefield accelerator and the energy apportioning question 
Description This dataset contains theoretical and experimental results of the properties of wide-angle electron beams ejected in the interaction of an intense laser pulse with an underdense plasma. Further details are available in the readme file. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2017 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Not recorded 
 
Title Three electron beams from a laser-plasma wakefield accelerator and the energy apportioning question 
Description This dataset contains theoretical and experimental results of the properties of wide-angle electron beams ejected in the interaction of an intense laser pulse with an underdense plasma. Further details are available in the readme file. Data embargo until 31/07/17 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact n/a 
 
Title Wide-angle electron beams from laser-wakefield accelerators 
Description This dataset contains theoretical and experimental results of the properties of wide-angle electron beams ejected in the interaction of an intense laser pulse with an underdense plasma. Further details are available in the readme file. Data embargo until 23/09/17 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2017 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Unknown 
 
Description Joint research with Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine 
Organisation Imperial College London
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution University of Strathclyde researchers worked on this project with researchers from Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine. Strathclyde led the ALPHA-X project, which resulted in a Nature paper and several other high impact publications.
Collaborator Contribution Participated in the ALPHA-X project, which resulted in a Nature paper and several other high impact publications.
Impact Participated in the ALPHA-X project, which resulted in a Nature paper and several other high impact publications.
Start Year 2007
 
Description Joint research with UNIVERSITY OF DUNDEE 
Organisation University of Dundee
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution University of Strathclyde researchers worked on this project with researchers from UNIVERSITY OF DUNDEE
Start Year 2007
 
Description Joint research with University of Dundee 
Organisation University of Dundee
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution University of Strathclyde researchers worked on this project with researchers from University of Dundee
Start Year 2012
 
Description Joint research with University of Glasgow 
Organisation University of Glasgow
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution University of Strathclyde researchers worked on this project with researchers from University of Glasgow
Collaborator Contribution Collaborated on radio isotope production. Collaborated on measurement of gamma rays. Collaborated on nuclear physics problems.
Impact Continuing collaboration in radio isotope production. Experiments continuing and paper in the pipeline. Collaboration on gamma ray production that resulted in a Nature Physics paper. Collaborated on developing very high energy electron therapy (VHEET). Several papers published.
Start Year 2012
 
Description Joint research with University of Lancaster 
Organisation Lancaster University
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution University of Strathclyde researchers worked on this project with researchers from University of Lancaster
Start Year 2007
 
Description Joint research with University of Lancaster 
Organisation Lancaster University
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution University of Strathclyde researchers worked on this project with researchers from University of Lancaster
Start Year 2012
 
Description Joint research with University of St Andrews 
Organisation University of St Andrews
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution University of Strathclyde researchers worked on this project with researchers from University of St Andrews
Start Year 2007
 
Description Joint research with University of St Andrews 
Organisation University of St Andrews
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution University of Strathclyde researchers worked on this project with researchers from University of St Andrews
Start Year 2012
 
Description Joint research with University of St Andrews 
Organisation University of St Andrews
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution University of Strathclyde researchers worked on this project with researchers from University of St Andrews
Start Year 2012
 
Description PULSAR PHYSICS 
Organisation Pulsar Physics
Country Netherlands 
Sector Private 
Start Year 2002
 
Description Project partnership with Indiana University School of Medicine 
Organisation Indiana University
Department School of Medicine
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Indiana University School of Medicine worked with the research team and assisted/contributed to the project outcomes
Collaborator Contribution Collaborated in VHEET research using LWFAs, which resulted in publications. Still ongoing.
Impact Collaborated in VHEET research using LWFAs, which resulted in publications. Still ongoing.
Start Year 2012
 
Description Project partnership with Instituto Superior Tecnico 
Organisation University of Lisbon
Department Instituto Superior Tecnico
Country Portugal 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Instituto Superior Tecnico worked with the research team and assisted/contributed to the project outcomes
Start Year 2012
 
Description Project partnership with Instituto Superior Tecnico 
Organisation University of Lisbon
Department Instituto Superior Tecnico
Country Portugal 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Instituto Superior Tecnico worked with the research team and assisted/contributed to the project outcomes
Start Year 2007
 
Description Project partnership with Ludwig Maximilians University, Munich 
Organisation Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU Munich)
Country Germany 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Ludwig Maximilians University, Munich worked with the research team and assisted/contributed to the project outcomes
Collaborator Contribution The LMU group analysed data from an experiments at RAL and wrote the paper, with input from our group. We developed the methods used for the experiment.
Impact Paper on electron bunch duration published.
Start Year 2012
 
Description Project partnership with SFTC (Daresbury Laboratory) 
Organisation Daresbury Laboratory
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution SFTC (Daresbury Laboratory) worked with the research team and assisted/contributed to the project outcomes
Start Year 2012
 
Description Project partnership with Shanghai Jiao Tong University 
Organisation Shanghai Jiao Tong University
Country China 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Shanghai Jiao Tong University worked with the research team and assisted/contributed to the project outcomes
Start Year 2012
 
Description Project partnership with University of Austin, USA 
Organisation University of Texas at Austin
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution University of Austin, USA worked with the research team and assisted/contributed to the project outcomes
Start Year 2007
 
Description Project partnership with University of Texas at Austin 
Organisation University of Texas at Austin
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution University of Texas at Austin worked with the research team and assisted/contributed to the project outcomes
Start Year 2012
 
Description Technical University of Lisbon 
Organisation Technical University of Lisbon
Country Portugal 
Sector Academic/University 
Start Year 2002
 
Description University of Texas at Austin 
Organisation University of Texas at Austin
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
Start Year 2006
 
Description An ultra-high gain amplifier based on Raman amplification in plasma - 7th Conference of the International Committee on Ultrahigh Intensity Lasers 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact An ultra-high gain amplifier based on Raman amplification in plasma - 7th Conference of the International Committee on Ultrahigh Intensity Lasers
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Department of Physics Open Evening 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Department of Physics Open Evening
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Hosting visit from external colleagues 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Visit to University from Innovate UK
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Kilmarnock Engineering and Science Society 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Kilmarnock Engineering and Science Society public lecture
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Laser amplifier based on Raman amplification in plasma - 3rd International Conference on Matter and Radiation at Extremes 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Laser amplifier based on Raman amplification in plasma - 3rd International Conference on Matter and Radiation at Extremes
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Laser amplifier based on Raman amplification in plasma - SPIE Optics and Optoelectronics 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Laser amplifier based on Raman amplification in plasma - SPIE Optics and Optoelectronics
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description SUPA Annual Gathering 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact May 2017 SUPA Annual Gathering
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description The Cockroft Institute 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Cockcroft Institute Management Committee lab tour
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017