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High-quality electrons and high-brightness x-rays from wakefield acceleration

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Laser wakefield accelerators (LWFA) are able to sustain accelerating gradients orders of magnitude larger than radio-frequency accelerators. Therefore, they represent a possible compact and cheaper alternative to conventional acceleration methods [1]. They also constitute a potential novel light source [2]. Thus, they open up promising perspectives for future compact and affordable electron and x-ray light sources, hence enabling possible revolutionary advances in science, industry, medicine, and technology. However, at the current status, the electron beam quality and stability, as well as the radiation that they generate, do not meet yet the standard for applications. Achieving high-quality beams and high-brightness radiation from LWFA are major challenges in the field.

Within this PhD project, we intend to tackle these major challenges. Leveraging high-fidelity numerical simulations, we aim at improving the electron beam and x-ray characteristics focusing on optimizing how electrons get trapped into the accelerating structure.

The successful candidate will join a vibrant research team developing novel acceleration concepts using ultra-intense lasers and working towards several proof-of-concept demonstrations of laser-driven particle acceleration. They will interact with eminent theoretical and experimental physicists making significant progress in the field. Their theory and simulation effort will enable and support forefront experiments at the STFC Daresbury Laboratory National Laboratory (Warrington) and other national and international facilities.

Through the development of this project, the student will acquire skills and expertise in plasma physics, laser-matter interaction, high-energy-density-physics, numerical techniques, and high-performance-computing. They will be registered at Lancaster University. They will also enrol in the graduate program at the Cockcroft Institute, part of STFC Daresbury Laboratory National Laboratory. Finally, they will have the opportunity to travel and collaborate with scientific institutes and universities in and outside the U.K.

Interested candidates should contact Dr Elisabetta Boella () for further information.

Funding Notes

Upon acceptance of a student, this project will be funded by the Science and Technology Facilities Council for 3.5 years; UK and other EU citizens are eligible to apply. A full package of training and support will be provided by the Cockcroft Institute, and the student will take part in a vibrant accelerator research and education community of around 200 people that includes around 70 postgraduates.


[1] Tajima & Dawson, Phys. Rev. Lett. 43, 267 (1979); Esarey et al. Rev. Mod. Phys. 81, 1229 (2009).
[2] Corde et al., Rev. Mod. Phys. 85, 1 (2013); Albert & Thomas, Plasma Phys. Contr. F. 58, 103001 (2016).

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