PhD opportunities

Development of compact laser accelerators

Title 
Development of compact laser accelerators 
Supervisor
Professor  Zulfikar Najmudin
 Type
 Experimental (may include simulational work)
 Description  

Laser wakefield accelerators have the prospect to become the next generation of particle accelerators. A high intensity laser pulse generates a large amplitude plasma wave, which can accelerate particles at a rate more than thousands of times faster than conventional accelerators. As well as making the next generation of linear accelerator for high energy physics possible, this type of accelerator can have a range of other applications in technology and science. This studentship will investigate the development of a compact system that can generate electron beams in the 100’s MeV energy range in the basement of the Blackett Laboratory. This system would be tested for a number of applications including generation of high energy particles and a driver for intense radiation and other light source applications.

Funding DSTL case studentship (pending)

Investigation of infrared lasers for efficient acceleration of ion beams

Title 
Investigation of infrared lasers for efficient acceleration of ion beams
Supervisor
Professor  Zulfikar Najmudin
 Type
 Experimental (may include simulational work)
 Description  

Intense lasers can generate intense beams of ions through a number of mechanisms. Amongst the most promising is the creation of energetic ions through reflection from collisionless shocks generated in low density targets by the extreme light pressure (or heating) of an intense laser pulse. Infrared lasers are a particularly interesting driver of this interaction as it allows the use of lower density plasmas. New advances in IR laser development (both here at Imperial College and at the ATF Brookhaven National Laboratory) promise the possibility of performing these experiments for the first time at intensities > 1018 Wcm-2. This should allow a major advance in the energy of ions that is achieved, for example reaching proton energies exceeding 100 MeV. Such beams would have considerable interest for applications such as radiation treatment of tumours or for fast heating of fusion capsules.

Funding Departmental studentship (pending). 

Time resolved x-ray absorption studies of Matter in Extreme Conditions

Much of the visible universe exists in extreme conditions, for example at high pressures and  temperatures inside stars and gas giant planets or in the presence of intense xray fluxes (eg the low density gas near black holes).   Much of our understanding of these systems comes from detailed atomic physics calculations.  However testing these models experimentally is very challenging -- such extreme conditions can now be created in the lab but only for very short periods of time (~ 1ps).

One of the ideal ways to study the atomic physics of these highly transient lab systems under extreme conditions is to use X-ray absorption spectroscopy, and the ideal X-ray source would have a broad spectrum (to allow absorption features to be observed) and femtosecond duration (to freeze the transient behaviour).  Our group has pioneered the development of X-ray radiation from laser wakefield accelerators which uniquely has both these properties. As part of the TeX-MEx project,  funded by the ERC, we have have a fully funded PhD position available in 2017. 

We are recruiting a student  to  join our experimental team.  You will be involved in developing our X-ray absorption spectroscopy program, designing, running and analysing experiments at national and international facilities such as the Astra Gemini laser at the Rutherford laboratory and X-ray free electron lasers. These experiments will use the unique properties of betatron radiation to probe the ultrafast dynamics of some of the most extreme conditions in the universe.

For more information please contact Stuart Mangles.