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Novel laser plasma wakefield (LWFA) experiments

   Cockcroft Institute

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  Dr L Corner  Applications accepted all year round  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Laser-driven plasma wakefield acceleration (LWFA) has been hugely successful in demonstrating high gradient and high energy acceleration of electrons. The shot-to-shot energy stability and bandwidth of these sources remains however 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 is also an essential part of staging multiple accelerator modules together to create a high energy particle collider based on laser plasma wakefield acceleration, and has been identified as a vital research area by the CERN Lab Directors' Group Expert Panel on High Gradient Acceleration.

There is currently only one experimental result on externally-injected LWFA, despite its promise as a route to high quality, high energy electron bunches. There is clearly much scope available for experiments to significantly increase both the accelerating gradient and charge captured in an external injection experiment, along with a full diagnostic analysis of the quality of the input and accelerated beams, allowing the optimisation of parameters to fully preserve the beam emittance during acceleration. The FEBE facility at the Daresbury Laboratory is a perfect test bed for these experiments, and nearly unique in this capability.

This project aims to investigate both numerically and experimentally 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 electron beam simulations 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 applicant will be expected to have a first or upper second class degree in physics or other appropriate qualification. The project would suit someone interested in experimental work with lasers and particle accelerators. Experience of laser physics, plasma physics and numerical simulation codes would be useful but not essential and all applications will be judged on their merits and potential. The position will remain open until filled, but the Cockcroft Institute expects to make initial offers in Feb 22 and early application is encouraged. A full graduate programme of training and development is provided by the Cockcroft Institute.

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

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 international 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.

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

Contact for further information: Dr. Laura Corner

How to apply:

Anticipated Start Date: October 2022 for 3.5 Years

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