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Multi-Pass Superconducting Energy Recovery Linacs – Accelerator Physics Design for Future Facilities


Cockcroft Institute

Lancaster United Kingdom Energy Technologies Computer Science Physics Particle Physics

About the Project

In collaboration with our partners in the Cockcroft Institute of Accelerator Science and Technology, the accelerator physics group in the department of physics at the University of Lancaster has a PhD studentship available for October 2021.

Accelerator physics develops the tools to address fundamental questions about the nature of the world: from particle physics to biology. Generating particle beams with higher energies or higher intensities than those available today requires innovations which range from the highly theoretical to hands-on engineering and technical work. This project gives you the opportunity to become involved in research to produce intense particle beams of high power with a wide range of applications.

Major accelerator-based scientific facilities have mostly taken the form of ‘synchrotrons’ (e.g. the LHC) in which beams circulate or linear accelerators (e.g. European XFEL) in which beams pass through the accelerator once. New developments in particle beam dynamics and the maturity of superconducting technology, gives us an intriguing opportunity to forge a step-change in accelerator performance through the deployment of high energy ‘multiple-pass recirculating linacs’. Such devices promise for the first time the simultaneous production of high ‘brightness’ beams at high power. This will have far reaching implications for particle and nuclear physics when implemented as a collider, and for the life sciences and industry when implemented as a ‘Free-Electron Laser’.

This PhD project will entail the simulation and optimisation of recirculating linac (linear accelerator) architectures in the context of three proposed accelerator facilities: the CERN-based Large Hadron Electron Collider (LHeC), the US-based Electron-Ion Collider (EIC) and the UK-based X-Ray Free Electron Laser (UK-XFEL).

The Large Hadron Electron Collider (LHeC) is a proposal to expand the CERN accelerator complex to provide 60 GeV electrons to collide with the main LHC proton and ion beams. This will greatly expand the physics capability at the LHC. The baseline for LHeC is a multi-pass superconducting energy recovery linac. As this machine is very challenging to build, it is proposed to construct a test facility called Powerful Energy Recovery Linac for Experiments (PERLE) in Orsay, France. This is envisaged to be a ~1 GeV machine with its own interesting physics programme, e.g. a precision measurement of the ‘electroweak mixing angle’.

The US Electron-Ion Collider (EIC) will be constructed at Brookhaven National Laboratory in the US, and will probe the nature of gluon-dominated matter and the origins of the mass and spin of nucleons. This machine requires extremely intense and ‘cool’ ion beams with little thermal motion of the ions inside the beam. One route to achieve this is the EIC High Energy Electron Cooler in which a superconducting energy recovery linac provides 150 MeV electrons which are made to interact with the ions to reduce their momentum spread.

Finally, the UK X-Ray Free Electron Laser (UK-XFEL) is currently in a four year R&D phase. In one proposal this machine could be combined with a ‘multi-pass’ superconducting energy recovery linac allowing it to drive high repetition-rate ‘Free-Electron Lasers’ and to achieve high x-ray energies efficiently. It would also be capable of carrying out nuclear research in the areas of security, medical isotopes and waste decommissioning, through the incorporation of an ‘inverse Compton scattering’ gamma ray source.

The successful candidate will have or expect to obtain a first or upper second-class degree or equivalent in physics. Experience of computer simulations and/or accelerator physics is desirable but not essential as training will be provided. The student will primarily be based at the Cockcroft Institute in Daresbury Laboratory although overseas travel may be required.

Lancaster Physics Department holds an Athena SWAN Silver award and JUNO Championship status and is strongly committed to fostering diversity within its community as a source of excellence, cultural enrichment, and social strength.

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.

Potential applicants are encouraged to contact Dr. Ian Bailey () for more information. This position will remain open until filled.

You can find out more about being a PhD student at the Cockcroft Institute here.

Anticipated Start Date: October 2021 for 3.5 Years


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 where the student will be part of a vibrant accelerator research and education community of over 150 people. Those students whose first language is not English should refer to Lancaster University's information on English language requirements for postgraduate students: View Website

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