Fast sensing technologies and techniques for applications of laser plasma acceleration

Lead Research Organisation: University of Strathclyde
Department Name: Physics


Laser-driven ultrafast sources of energetic radiation will have a transformative impact in numerous industrial and scientific areas over the next decade. At the focus of an ultra-high power laser, extremely large electric fields can be used to accelerate charged particles to 100's MeV energies and produce bright, highly directional hard X-ray pulses. With the advent of new diode pumping technology, such sources will be able to be delivered at 10's Hz (x100 faster than today's typical machines) over the next few years and this opens the way for new and novel applications of such sources.
This project will develop our understanding of the laser-plasma interaction to enable brighter and better conversion into these new and novel X-ray sources, specifically for the application of penetrating imaging for defence. This project will also develop and apply ultrafast detectors matched to the new time-resolved imaging capability of these unique sources (typically of sub ps duration). The objectives include simulation, modelling and experimentally evaluating such new detector classes to deliver unprecedented highly penetrating imaging capability.
The student is registered at the Physics Department at the University of Strathclyde and based primarily at the Central Laser Facility, Oxfordshire where they have access to specialist experimental equipment including the Vulcan and Gemini high power lasers and several large high performance computers, and at Dstl (Defence Science and Technology Laboratory) where they will be trained in Monte Carlo modelling. The project aligns to EPSRC's Global Uncertainties (Terrorism) theme and the Plasma and Laser research area


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Bradford P (2018) EMP control and characterization on high-power laser systems in High Power Laser Science and Engineering

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Liao G (2019) Multimillijoule coherent terahertz bursts from picosecond laser-irradiated metal foils. in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/N509371/1 01/10/2015 30/09/2020
1694401 Studentship EP/N509371/1 01/10/2015 30/09/2019 Egle Zemaityte
Description EMP generated in high power laser-solid interactions is known to be destructive to electronic equipment and interference with experimental measurements in experiments. I investigated the relationship between electromagnetic pulse (EMP) generation and the sheath field driving proton acceleration in laser-solid interactions. More ions of higher energies are detected where the EMP signals are high, suggesting that both are potentially driven by the same mechanism. The knowledge gained allows us to broaden our understanding on how these can be controlled - minimising EMP without reducing the proton flux. It was also found that detected EMP signals are significantly reduced when using insulating materials in the target mounting system and changing the geometry and shapes of the target. This is an extremely important observation for future high repetition rate ultra-high power facilities which will be susceptible to high levels of EMP radiation.
Exploitation Route Current and future high-power laser facilities could use our findings and implement our techniques if their laboratories suffer from high EMP levels.
Sectors Other