Nanorad - Ultrafast, nano-scale material response to radiation and applications of ultrafast radiation sources.

Lead Research Organisation: Queen's University of Belfast
Department Name: Sch of Mathematics and Physics


The Centre for Plasma Physics is internationally leading in the exploitation of intense lasers and laser driven ultrafast radiation sources. This platform grant will allow strategic exploitation of the developments seeded in the previous, highly successful platform grant.
In particular, the advent of ultrafast laser driven radiation sources ranging from x-rays to particle beams allows the dynamics of the natural world at the shortest timescales and spatially on the nanoscale to be investigated. This is the core theme of this platform grant, which follows on from the success in these areas achieved during the first platform grant. Emerging from this is the development of the worlds most powerful few-cycle (<10fs) laser - the TARANIS-X project. These high-energy, extremely short pulses are a key extension to the TARANIS facility at QUB and will enable cutting edge science.
The over-arching strategic goal of this proposal is to fully exploit the new pathways that have been enabled by laser driven radiation sources and to maximize the scientific impact of the recently funded TARANIS-X project (EPSRC Experimental Equipment Call) by fully exploiting the synergies available through close integration of academic staff under the auspices of the proposed NanoRad Platform Grant.

Planned Impact

Impact in Outreach:
Our highly successful outreach programme developed around a collaboration with the Ulster Museum and integrated into the newly developed Northern Ireland Science Festival (now in it's second year) will be continued and extended as part of the Platform Grant. We have demonstrated the ability to reach very substantial numbers of the general public (10,000 in Y1, 18,000 in Y2) and intend to build on this by developing further displays to engage the public and school age children in particular with science.

Impact in Healthcare:
The research programme and approach we will implement as part of NanoRad were selected from the outset with delivery of impact in mind. Interactions of radiation and water (particularly the ones being studied in this proposal) are key to all radiotherapy interventions and hence to our understanding of them. The interaction of radiation with aqueous environments, and Gold nanoparticles in particular, are of increasing interest in nanomedicine and we need to properly understand their interaction with radiation in aqueous environments.
Impact in this area will be driven forward by the newly formed Centre for Applied and Interdisciplinary Radiation Research (CAIRR) at QUB, which provides for an integrated environment in which scientists with background ranging from Physics over Pharmacy to clinical trials Developments and new discoveries made in the realm of the physics foundations of radiation therapy therefore a have a direct pathway to obtain relevance in the most rapid possible fashion.
For example the Centre for Plasma Physics already has strong interactions with industry in this sector. We have developed an active partnership, and obtained funding from, with one of the world's leading radiation nanomedicine companies and the first to have a radiation nanomedicine in clinical trials. In order to illustrate the value of our improved physics models to both this sector and the clinical sector, we will develop a number of illustrative exemplars within the framework of this platform grant, most notably the effect of proton damage in water on the nanoscale. These exemplars will draw on the new physics models created, specifically illustrating the extra precision and the benefits of the quantification of uncertainty built in to the models

Impact in Industry:
From finance to healthcare, communication, leisure and travel, the storage and processing of data underpins all aspects of modern life. One of the strands of NanoRad will be to examine Ultra-fast Ferroelectric Switching. While ferromagnetic materials are still used for the vast majority of data storage, ferroelectrics have been progressively developed as a non-volatile memory alternative. Ferroelectric switching is extremely energy-efficient and ferroelectric capacitors are more readily embedded into electronics than their magnetic counterparts. Our collaborators in the Centre for Nanostructured Media are strongly connected to industry (for example via the SEAGATE funded ANSIN research centre at QUB. Thus advances are readily available to industry and tensioned against real world constraints
The platform grant (PG) will provide a valuable resource for the development and training of young researchers (YRs) in the field of high intensity laser-plasma interaction physics. In addition to the specialist skills and knowledge pertaining to lasers and plasmas, students and staff working on the programme will gain experience in problem solving, team-working, high level IT skills, data analysis, project planning, communication etc - all desirable and transferable to diverse career pathways. Past PhD and PDRA personnel from our group have contributed their expertise in a range of areas including industry, academia, government laboratories, teaching and finance.


10 25 50
Description The award provides the basis for our outreach acitivities. These have high visiblitity within the NI science festival and take place at the ulster museum reaching thousands of members of the public
First Year Of Impact 2017
Sector Education
Impact Types Societal

Description EPSRC Physical Sciences - October 2016 Responsive Mode
Amount £869,344 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/P016960/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2017 
End 03/2021
Description Proton Acceleration and Rad. Interaciton 
Organisation Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres
Department GSI Helmholtz Centre for Heavy Ion Research
Country Germany 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution We bring expertise in the field of laser acceleration and interactions matching and complementing those at Jena?GSI
Collaborator Contribution Expertise in Laser interactions, Facilities, Equipment
Impact Numerous joint papers
Start Year 2012