Key elements: Access to exclusive equipment + outputs including several high-quality papers
Orion’s academic access programme has enabled AWE to collaborate with some of the leading scientists from around the world in High Energy Density Physics. Francisco... pulled together an international team to make the campaign a huge success resulting in the publication of several high quality papers"
Orion’s academic access coordinator, AWE
AWE: Hosting world-class research
AWE's Orion laser facility is used to conduct research into high energy density physics phenomena, which occur at the heart of a nuclear explosion or the interior of a star. Each year 15% of the system's time is available to UK academics on an application basis.
In 2015 Imperial's Dr Francisco Suzuki-Vidal led an academic access experiment on 'laboratory astrophysics' at the facility.
Francisco says, "When I first heard the news that my research proposal at Orion had been approved I immediately felt a huge sense of responsibility. The sheer scale of the Orion laser building (an area of about two football pitches and about three storeys high) makes you really want to plan every single detail!"
The experiment that Francisco proposed was within the novel field of 'laboratory astrophysics', the study of astrophysical phenomena by the means of Earth-based laboratory experiments using plasmas. The work involved studying, for the first time, the counter-propogating collisions between two laser-driven shocks and was designed to maximise the simultaneous plasma diagnostics available at Orion. Diagnostics included previously proven techniques such as point-projection x-ray backlighting and optical self-emission streak imaging. However, the experiment also allowed testing of new improved diagnostics such as free-space propogating 2w laser probing and four simultaneous gated-optical intensifiers (GOIs). Moreover, the research successfully demonstrated a gas-fill capability that was not available on Orion before, opening the door to future experiments of this type.
"All the possible aspects of the experiments were assessed by Orion staff, which included working closely with experts in diagnostics, health and safety and target manufacture and, critically, high-performance numerical simulations to predict the expected outcome of the experiments. There was a very strong sense of team effort throughout this process." Francisco continued. "Working alongside the Orion crew felt very natural, as everyone had a different task at hand but with only one aim, which was to get everything ready and working for the experiments. This would not have been possible without extensive planning, which took about a year."
There was a very strong sense of team effort throughout this process. Working alongside the Orion crew felt very natural, as everyone had a different task at hand but with only one aim."
Dr Francisco Suzuki-Vidal
"Orion's academic access programme has enabled AWE to collaborate with some of the leading scientist from around the world in High Energy Density Physics. Francisco, although relatively new to the field, pulled together an international team to make the campaign a huge success resulting in the publication of several high-quality papers. We continue to collaborate with Francisco in his on-going research," says Colin Danson, Orion's academic access coordinator.
This is not Imperial's first partnership with the company. AWE are a long-standing partner of the College and an important ally in Imperial's strategy to deliver impact through industry collaborations. As one of AWE's strategic alliance universities the College benefits from engagement with AWE over a broad range of disciplines and across seven of its departments. The relationships between both organisations has grown from a strong connection in plasma physics to projects in areas as diverse as additive manufacturing and robotics.
For more information or to discuss partnering with Imperial please contact Dr Rebecca Wilson, Head of Corporate Partnerships for the Faculty of Natural Sciences.