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Theoretical and numerical studies of relativistic laser-plasma interaction and applications

Department of Physics

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Prof Z Sheng Applications accepted all year round Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

You might be a potential candidate if you are interested in using high performance computing to discover novel physics or solve key problems in high intensity laser-matter interactions and their applications, particularly in advanced particle accelerators and radiation sources (from THz to X-rays). PhD scholarships for UK and EU students are available in the Department of Physics at the University of Strathclyde (Glasgow, UK), under the supervision of Prof. Zheng-Ming Sheng, to investigate relativistic laser-plasma based particle accelerators and plasma photonics for high power lasers by theory and numerical simulation.

With modern laser technologies, even commercial laser systems can deliver laser pulses with peak power over 1PW (1PW=10^15 W) with a pulse duration less than 30fs (1fs=1/10^15 s). A few laser facilities with peak power over 10PW are under construction, which push the laser-matter interactions to a new front. One of their important applications is to build new types of particle accelerators, which enables one to produce energetic particle beams and radiation sources in a very compact size and with unique characters, e.g., ultrashort duration and high peak brightness, suitable for wide applications from academia, industry, to medicine. The European community is planning to build the first user facility of laser plasma accelerators. One topic of the PhD project will be related to laser and plasma based particle accelerators.

Alternative topic of the PhD project will be on plasma photonics, which aims to manipulate high power lasers including the temporal-spatial structures, intensity amplification, spectrum structures, or polarisation based upon linear and nonlinear plasma properties for various applications, such laser plasma particle accelerators, novel radiation sources, and inertial confined fusion, etc. Previously, a few plasma-based optical components have been proposed, including plasma gratings, plasma waveguide, plasma lens, plasma polarizer, plasma optical modulator, etc. In this project, we will focus on the manipulation of extreme high power laser pulses with peak power over PW.

The Intense Laser Interaction Studies (SILIS) Group at Strathclyde has devoted to the studies of relativistic laser-plasma interaction and its applications in advanced particle accelerators and high energy density physics for over decades. The establishment of the Scottish Centre for the Application of Plasma-based Accelerators (SCAPA) represents our recent development in this area at Strathclyde, which is funded by the university and other participating universities through SUPA and the SFC (Scottish Funding Council), EPSRC and STFC. The theory group led by Prof. Sheng has established wide collaborations with theoretical and experimental groups in the UK and in other countries, for example, DESY and MPQ in Germany, ELI-Beamlines in Czech Republic, Shanghai Jiaotong University in China, and TIFR in India.

We are looking for highly motivated candidates with a strong theoretical or numerical background in the following related areas: plasma physics, nonlinear optics, or conventional accelerator physics. Experience in programming with Fortran, C/C++, Matlab, or Python would be ideal. A successful candidate will carry out research mainly at Strathclyde. For further information on the PhD project contact Prof. Zheng-Ming Sheng ([Email Address Removed]).

Funding Notes

The PhD project is funded by University of Strathclyde and collaboration partners. Only UK and EU students are eligible for this position.


[1] F. Y. Li, Z. M. Sheng, Y. Liu, J. Meyer-ter-Vehn, W. B. Mori, W. Lu, and J. Zhang, “Dense attosecond electron sheets from laser wakefields using an up-ramp density transition”, Phys. Rev. Lett. 110, 135002 (2013).
[2] M. Zeng, M. Chen, L. L. Yu, W. B. Mori, Z. M. Sheng, B. Hidding, D. A. Jaroszynski, and J. Zhang, “Multichromatic Narrow-Energy-Spread Electron Bunches from Laser-Wakefield Acceleration with Dual-Color Lasers”, Phys. Rev. Lett. 114, 084801 (2015).
[3] L. L. Yu, Y. Zhao, L.J. Qian, M. Chen, S.M. Weng, Z.M. Sheng , D.A. Jaroszynski, W.B. Mori, and J. Zhang, “Plasma optical modulators for intense lasers”, Nature Comm. 7,11893 (2016).
[4] X.L. Zhu, T.P. Yu, Z.M. Sheng, Y. Yin, I. C. E. Turcu, and A. Pukhov, “Dense GeV electron–positron pairs generated by lasers in near-critical-density plasmas”, Nature Comm. 7:13686 (2016).
[5] M.K. Weikum, F.Y. Li, R.W.Assmann, Z.M.Sheng, and D.Jaroszynski, Generation of attosecond electron bunches in a laser-plasma accelerator using a plasma density up ramp, Nucl. Instr. Meth. Phys. Res. A 829, 33-36 (2016).
[6] S. Weng, Q. Zhao, Z. Sheng, W. Yu, S. Luan, M. Chen, L. Yu, M. Murakami, W. B. Mori, and J. Zhang, “Extreme case of Faraday effect: Magnetic splitting of ultrashort laser pulses in plasmas”, Optica 4, 1086-1091 (2017).
[7] J. Luo, M. Chen,W. Y. Wu, S. M. Weng, Z. M. Sheng, C. B. Schroeder, D. A. Jaroszynski, E. Esarey, W. P. Leemans, W. B. Mori, and J. Zhang, “Multistage Coupling of Laser-Wakefield Accelerators with Curved Plasma Channels”, Phys. Rev. Lett. 120, 154801 (2018).
[8] Q. Zhao, S.M. Weng, Z.M. Sheng, M. Chen, G.B. Zhang, W. B. Mori, B. Hidding, D. A. Jaroszynski, J. Zhang, “Ionization injection in a laser wakefield accelerator subject to a transverse magnetic field”, New J. Phys. 20, 063031 (2018).
[9] T.C. Wilson, F.Y. Li, M. Weikum, Z.M. Sheng, “Influence of strong magnetic fields on laser pulse propagation in underdense plasma”, Plasma Phys. Contr. Fusion 59 065002 (2017).
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