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Integration of Plasma Wakefield Acceleration into the UK X-ray Free-Electron-Laser

Cockcroft Institute

Glasgow United Kingdom Manufacturing Engineering Nanotechnology Materials Science Physics

About the Project

Supervisors: Prof. Bernhard Hidding (Strathclyde), Dr. Peter Williams (ASTeC), Dr. Hywel Owen (Manchester), Dr. Paul Scherkl, Fahim Habib, Dr. Brian McNeil (Strathclyde)

Project Description:

A studentship is available from October 2021, aiming to combine two cutting edge research directions: plasma wakefield acceleration (PWFA) and X-ray Free-Electron-Lasers (XFEL). PWFA can accelerate electrons 1,000 times more rapidly than conventional accelerators, and the use of plasma photocathodes can produce electron beams 10,000 brighter than conventional accelerators [1]. Such beams offer transformative prospects for capabilities of the UK XFEL [2], a prospective engine of discovery with impact across natural, material and life sciences. The PhD student will be embedded in the STFC PWFA-FEL project [3] and the ERC Nexource project [4] in an international team at Strathclyde. The R&D will push PWFA in approved experiments at Strathclyde and internationally, e.g. at Stanford’s SLAC FACET-II accelerator and various European laser-plasma-facilities, with optional opportunities for placements at the international partner facilities. The R&D encompasses theoretical, simulation-based and experimental aspects and will be flexibly adjusted to the applicant’s interests and talents.

The applicant will be expected to have a first or upper second class degree in physics or other appropriate qualification. Laser experience is desirable but not essential, as is experience in accelerator and computational physics. A full graduate programme of training and development is provided by the Cockcroft Institute. The student will be based primarily at University of Strathclyde, with (extended) placements in Daresbury and at EU and US partners possible.

[1] Deng .. Hidding, Nature Physics 15, p. 1156–1160 (2019)

[2] UK XFEL Science Case,

[3] STFC PWFA-FEL project

[4] European Research Council NeXource project

Potential applicants are encouraged to contact Prof. Bernhard Hidding () for more information. This position will remain open until filled.

Funding and eligibility:

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 over 150 people. An IELTS score of at least 6.5 is required.

UKRI studentships cover a student stipend but do not cover the full costs of international tuition fees and the Cockcroft Institute cannot waive the excess. However, we aim, but cannot guarantee, to cover full fees for successful international applicants.

How to apply:

Anticipated Start Date: October 2021 for 3.5 Years

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