Laboratory studies of plasma streaming instabilities as astrophysical analogues

Lead Research Organisation: University of Strathclyde
Department Name: Physics

Abstract

The project will contribute to developing an understanding of astrophysical events through studying analogue systems based on laser-plasma interactions. Experimental methods will be used to investigate the development of streaming instabilities in laser-plasma interactions, which are precursors of shocks, and their roles in radiation production in plasma that are analogues of similar processes occurring in space and astrophysical environments. These will be compared with theoretical models developed at Strathclyde as part of the ALPHA-X project. The project will contribute to understanding the origins of gamma ray bursts (GRBs) from jets and catastrophic astrophysics events, neutron star mergers and high energy cosmic rays, which are thought to involve plasma instabilities (e.g. filamentation and two stream). Furthermore, at high intensities, pair production and collective radiation reaction becomes important. The project will involve a study of plasma instabilities and radiation processes in laser-driven plasma in plasma where high energy plasma streams propagate. The student will work closely with both theory and experimental teams. Experiments will utilise the 350 TW and 40 TW SCAPA lasers at Strathclyde, and the RAL-CLF and ELI lasers when high power or energies are required. Plasma media and diagnostic systems will be developed for the experiments.
The project will contribute to answering STFC Particle Astrophysics questions through (analogue) laboratory and numerical (simulation) investigations.

Publications

10 25 50

Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ST/N504439/1 01/10/2015 30/09/2023
1660678 Studentship ST/N504439/1 01/10/2015 30/09/2018 Lewis Ramsay Reid
 
Description This work investigated experimentally the emission of soft and hard x-rays from particle accelerators based on laser plasma interactions. The properties of the radiation pulses emitted directly from the plasma have been investigated with the aim to prepare the source for real world applications and to provide information to theoretical scientists to assist in developing an understanding of the source of the radiation.
Exploitation Route The proof of principle imaging experiments should be conducted to show that this radiation from the laser wakefield accelerator is a interesting source for applications.
The planned experimental run to probe the source in more detail should go ahead to better understand it and help provide information to theorists attempting to understand it.
Sectors Other

 
Description Santander mobility grant
Amount £500 (GBP)
Organisation Santander UK Ltd. 
Sector Private
Country United Kingdom
Start 05/2017 
End 05/2018
 
Description The impact accelerator account
Amount £30,000 (GBP)
Organisation University of Strathclyde 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2017 
End 03/2018
 
Description Collaberation for the design and testing of an adjustable Kirkpatrick-baez microscope for x-ray radiation 
Organisation Spanish Center for Pulsed Lasers
PI Contribution The Strathclyde team helped to made design contributions towards the version of the Kirkpatrick-Baez (KB) microscope delivered to SCAPA to improve the overall efficiency and to ensure that it operates in the soft x-ray region where experiments connected to this project will take place. Once delivered, the KB was tested before an experimental run and the results of the testing and the experimental results with soft and hard x-rays will be considered along side results from centro de laseres pulsados (CLPU) to design a beta of the KB microscope.
Collaborator Contribution The team at centro de laseres pulsados (CLPU) and university of Alberta collaberated together to design and manufacture the initial version of the KB and preform the first experiments of the focusing of the x-rays. CLPU redesigned the chassis of the KB to allow for the larger mirrors requested by Strathclyde and made it in their workshop before sending to us. The university of Alberta coated the silicon wafers with Platinum to be used as the mirrors of the KB and send them to Strathclyde.
Impact A adjustable KB has been delivered to the University of Strathclyde and SCAPA in preparation for experiments involving focused x-rays and XUV light from laser-plasma accelerators. Initial testing of the KB has taken place with an HeNe laser and the 800 nm high power laser in alignment mode. First focusing has taken place with hard x-rays.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Collaberation for the design and testing of an adjustable Kirkpatrick-baez microscope for x-ray radiation 
Organisation University of Alberta
Department Department of Physics
PI Contribution The Strathclyde team helped to made design contributions towards the version of the Kirkpatrick-Baez (KB) microscope delivered to SCAPA to improve the overall efficiency and to ensure that it operates in the soft x-ray region where experiments connected to this project will take place. Once delivered, the KB was tested before an experimental run and the results of the testing and the experimental results with soft and hard x-rays will be considered along side results from centro de laseres pulsados (CLPU) to design a beta of the KB microscope.
Collaborator Contribution The team at centro de laseres pulsados (CLPU) and university of Alberta collaberated together to design and manufacture the initial version of the KB and preform the first experiments of the focusing of the x-rays. CLPU redesigned the chassis of the KB to allow for the larger mirrors requested by Strathclyde and made it in their workshop before sending to us. The university of Alberta coated the silicon wafers with Platinum to be used as the mirrors of the KB and send them to Strathclyde.
Impact A adjustable KB has been delivered to the University of Strathclyde and SCAPA in preparation for experiments involving focused x-rays and XUV light from laser-plasma accelerators. Initial testing of the KB has taken place with an HeNe laser and the 800 nm high power laser in alignment mode. First focusing has taken place with hard x-rays.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Festival of Physics 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Planned, organised and ran a table of activities at the festival of physics in October 2018 organised by the Institute of Physics in Scotland.
The activities were to introduce the audience to the concepts behind the laser wakefield accelerator, plasmas and high power lasers. The activities included a wave tank where pulling the "laser pulse" through it excited a wave in its wake that small wooden beads could be trapped and pushed by - similar to electrons in the plasma wave of a wakefield accelerator. A video showing a simulation of a wakefield accelerator, a laser plasma interactions poster, a video of the presentation I gave at the 2017 festival of physics, a Tesla coil producing a small region of plasma and a timescales matching game to give participants an idea of the amount of time that some physical processes occur on and the duration of time that scientists working on laser plasma interactions use.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://www.festivalofphysics.org/
 
Description Glasgow science festival and Explorathon 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact As a committee member of SCOPE, the postgraduate physics society at the University of Strathclyde, we have organised and delivered activities aimed at young primary school aged people to show them some basic concepts in physics, mainly involving the properties of light. I have participated in both Explorathon and the Glasgow science festival each year of my PhD where we had hands on demonstrations including 3D movies work, what polarisation is and interference patterns in light. In a single night, we interacted with up to 100 young people to share with them the concepts we wanted to share as well as our enthusiasm for our work.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015,2016,2017
 
Description Talk at the Festival of Physics 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Myself and a colleague gave a one hour talk entitled "Pocket-size particle accelerators" at the Festival of Physics (organised by the IOP in Scotland) introducing the field of laser plasma interactions with an emphasis on the laser wakefield accelerator. Two people shared the presentation to give both the experimentalists and theoreticians perspective of the field. This was one of a number of talks as part of the event held in a high school in Edinburgh where we had around 30 members of the public in the audience. The purpose of the talk was to introduce the concept of the laser-plasma accelerator, how they work, how they compare to RF accelerators and what they might be used for. It also was to highlight that world class research and facilities exist in Scotland where people live and that it is something that anyone can aspire to work on. The talk ended with a lively question and answer session with the audience which continued after our allotted slot outside the lecture theatre.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017