Relativistic and ultrarelativistic effects of electron and photon beams of extreme intensities

Lead Research Organisation: University of Strathclyde
Department Name: Physics


At the University of Strathclyde, the Scottish Centre for the Application of Plasma-based Accelerators (SCAPA) aims at exploiting laser-plasma-interaction for various industrially relevant, innovative applied science and research. One major aim of SCAPA is to generate relativistic electron as well as photon beams of the highest brightness, which may allow transformative impact on light sources for imaging in a wide area of natural, material and life sciences. Much progress has been made in this regard, both for photon as well as for electron beams, in theory, modelling and experiment. A recent EPSRC strategic equipment grant complements major investment by the university and SUPA into SCAPA. Gavin Kirwan's PhD is now going the next step, and will explore the combined use and interaction of such electron with photon beams at SCAPA. This will open up a plethora of unique experiments and applications, possibly unparalleled anywhere in the world based on a world-class facility, intellectual leadership and experimental know-how. His PhD on "Relativistic and ultrarelativistic effects of electron and photon beams of extreme intensities" will contribute fundamental R&D regarding the physics of interaction of most intense and hard photon beams with ultraintense electron beams inside and outside of plasma, which are crucial for the design and interpretation of experiments. These experiments will take place at SCAPA and collaborating sites. The R&D is supported by industrial players such as RadiaBeam Technologies e.g. via exploitation of intellectual property, and by international research centres such as DESY and SLAC. An intense collaboration with DESY/Hamburg and SLAC/Stanford has been leading to demonstration of novel concepts of plasma acceleration, but also at the same time at both facilities hard x-ray free-electron lasers (LCLS in Stanford, European XFEL in Hamburg) have been put into operation. While these are based on conventional accelerator technology, our plasma-based approaches and novel capabilities have been attracting so much interest that they are now seriously considered to complement these facilities. Gavin's research will therefore be addressing also the prospects of combined use of ultrahard x-ray photon beams from those X-FEL facilities, with ultraintense electron beams generated by our approaches. Specifically, this would be our "Trojan Horse" approach, for which collaborations exists already with both Hamburg as well as Stanford. Notably the EuPRAXIA project, aiming at plasma accelerators with industrial beam quality, will play a major role and will trigger novel research and funding opportunities, including further growth of the Strathclyde Centre for Doctoral Training on Plasma-based Particle and Light Sources P-PALS
Gavin will be part of P-PALS, of SILIS/SCAPA, and also of the Cockcroft Institute. He will be using advanced particle-in-cell code modelling, using the codes VSim, WARP/FBPIC, Epoch and Osiris. This will open opportunities regarding making progress with the UK XFEL plans, as well as will have impact on the Cockcroft Institute, where such modelling capability is also needed for joint experiments. Finally, because Gavin's R&D will bring beams of unprecedented intensity and energy density into experimental reach, it will also potentially allow to harness NPL links as regards metrology for such intensity levels.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/R512205/1 01/10/2017 30/09/2021
1960453 Studentship EP/R512205/1 01/10/2017 31/12/2021 Gavin Kirwan