X-ray imaging originated as a medical diagnostic tool, but it is now used widely throughout industry as a means of non-destructive testing. The technique can provide rich information on internal geometries that are otherwise inaccessible which is what makes it so attractive. Examples include: evaluating the jelly roll and welds within batteries; the distribution of particulates within novel alloy materials; and defect detection in additive manufactured products.
This can currently be done in the lab, such as one of multiple systems at WMG, that generate X-rays by creating a potential difference to accelerate electrons to hit a target. The X-rays illuminate an object that sits in front of a detector, creating a radiographic image. By capturing a number of radiographs through 360 degrees, a 3D representation of the object can then be reconstructed for evaluation.
STFC are developing novel X-ray sources based on plasma accelerators driven by short-pulse, high power lasers. A new large-scale facility, the Extreme Photonics Applications Centre (EPAC) is under construction to specifically target industrial applications of these sources. The principal advantage of this source is that it is significantly brighter, producing several orders of magnitude more X-rays than the current laboratory counterparts. This means that a scan of an object can be achieved significantly faster and will be of increased quality.
In this PhD, the successful student will be part of the team developing this next generation laser-driven X-ray source. Specifically they will
1. Lead experimental campaigns to characterise the properties of laser-plasma x-ray beams
2. Create acquisition procedures to capture necessary data from the source and conduct proof-of-principle tomography scans
3. Optimise image processing techniques to reconstruct high-quality data
4. Validate the technique through industrial case studies
The studentship will be based at the CiMAT group at WMG, University of Warwick, working together with the Central Laser Facility at the STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Didcot with regular placement there.
The PhD will be a blend of experimental and computational work. The student would have a background in Physics, with a specific interest in lasers and have experience in programming (Matlab, Python, or similar).
Essential and desirable criteria
Prospective applicants are expected to have a minimum 2.1 undergraduate (BEng, MEng, BSc, MSci) and/or postgraduate masters’ qualification (MSc) with 65% or above in either Physics, Engineering, or Computer Science.