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Novel laser plasma acceleration experiments

Cockcroft Institute

About the Project

Applications are invited for a fully funded studentship from Oct 2021 in laser-driven plasma wakefield acceleration. LWFA has been hugely successful in demonstrating high gradient and high energy acceleration of electrons but the shot-to-shot energy stability and bandwidth of these sources remains below that of conventional accelerators; this is due to the intrinsically nonlinear and noisy nature by which particles are ‘self-injected’ into the laser wakefield. One attractive method to improve the performance of LWFA would be to inject high quality bunches from a conventional accelerator into a LWFA, which would allow energy gain in a linear regime and preserves the injected bunch quality.

This project aims to exploit the new Full Energy Beam Exploitation (FEBE) facility at the Daresbury laboratory to investigate high accelerating gradient, high charge external injection experiments. This will also involve measurement of the emittance of the injected and accelerated beams to demonstrate the preservation of the beam quality. The FEBE facility at the Daresbury Laboratory is a perfect test bed for these experiments, and nearly unique in this capability.

The student will investigate both experimentally and numerically external injection of electrons into a laser driven wakefield at FEBE and develop diagnostics capable of fully characterising the accelerated beam. This will involve detailed simulations using the fbpic code and beam simulations by AsTeC staff to identify the parameter space for successful injection and acceleration. This will also involve the design and testing of a suitable gas jet target for injection, and investigation of guiding mechanisms for the high power laser to drive the wake before a full experimental programme on external injection.

The project will be predominantly experimental in nature, involving work with high power lasers and particle accelerators. The applicant will be expected to have a first or upper second class degree in physics or other appropriate qualification, with an interest in experimental work in the field of laser and accelerator physics. 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 the Institute at Daresbury, with some work in the laser lab at the University of Liverpool. It is anticipated that the student will participate in experiments at facilities such as CLARA/FEBE at Daresbury, the Central Laser Facility at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and potentially other international laser and accelerator facilities.

Potential applicants are encouraged to contact Dr. Laura Corner () for more information.

Information about the Cockcroft Institute can be found at

You can find out more about being a PhD student at the Cockcroft Institute here, where you can download an application form and also find out about the other PhD projects available at the Cockcroft.

To apply for this project, fill in the application form and email it with your CV to .

This position will remain open until filled, although offers will be made from Feb 2021 so early application is advisable.

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. 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.

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