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Synthesising Extreme Light Pulses for Applications in Intense Laser-Plasma Interactions

   School of Mathematics and Physics

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  Dr M Yeung, Dr B Dromey  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

The internal mechanics of electrons in atomic and molecular systems operate on a timescale of attoseconds (10-18s) which require sources of intense bursts of light on this same timescale to act as an ultrafast “camera flash” to probe and potentially control such ultrafast dynamics [1]. Pulses this short are beyond what is possible via “conventional” femtosecond laser technology (which was recently the subject of a Nobel prize [2]), however one promising route to such a source is the intense interaction of a laser pulse with a solid density plasma surface which leads to relativistic electron motion and nonlinear modulation of the incident field corresponding to the presence of ultrahigh frequencies confined to attosecond scale bursts [3]. Recent work in this area from our group highlights the huge gains possible from precise spatiotemporal tailoring of the incident laser pulse [4].

This project will focus on the development and optimisation of the techniques used to achieve this including generation and control of additional frequency components in the laser pulse using non-linear processes in crystals and advanced schemes for manipulation of the polarisation and spatial properties of the driving beam. This will involve working at some of the most intense lasers in the world (e.g., the Central Laser Facility in the UK and the JETI200 laser at the Helmholtz Institute Jena in Germany) and the use of cutting-edge numerical simulation codes to model the interaction. As such, the successful applicant will have the opportunity to travel and work alongside researchers from across the world and develop skills in advanced optics, X-ray spectroscopy and numerical modelling.

Funding Notes

The studentship is funded by DfE for 3 years and funding is available for UK nationals or international candidates satisfying UK residency criteria (settled/pre-settled status + 3 years ordinary UK residency). For full eligibility criteria, please see


[1] F. Krausz and M. Ivanov "Attosecond Physics", Rev. Mod. Phys., 81, 163 (2009)
[3] G. Tsakiris et al. “Route to intense single attosecond pulses”, New J. Phys., 8, 19 (2006)
[4] M. Yeung et al. “Experimental observation of attosecond control over relativistic electron bunches with twocolour fields”, Nat. Photonics, 11, 32 (2016)
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