In my research, I use intense laser-plasma interactions to create new kinds of compact particle accelerators and X-ray light sources, and I exploit the unique properties of these sources to explore the physics of extreme conditions.
Particle accelerators are well known as important tools of scientific discovery, but they are large and expensive machines. The laser wakefield acceleration technique I research now allows high-energy particle and X-ray beams to be produced in a university size laboratory. Using these accelerators we can now produce multi-GeV electron beams in a plasma accelerator just a few centimetres long (something which a conventional accelerator can only achieve in one hundred metres or more).
The unique properties of the beams that laser wakefield accelerators produce, together with their co-location and easy synchronization with other high-power laser sources, are now helping to drive a new generation of experiments. These experiments aim to understand how matter behaves under extreme conditions – extremely high temperatures, densities and electromagnetic field intensities compared to anything found on Earth, but conditions that are surprisingly common and important throughout the universe.
et al., Experimental observation of radiation reaction in the collision of a high-intensity laser pulse with a laser-wakefield accelerated electron beam
et al., 2017, Excitation and Control of Plasma Wakefields by Multiple Laser Pulses, Physical Review Letters, Vol:119, ISSN:0031-9007
et al., 2017, Signatures of quantum effects on radiation reaction in laser-electron-beam collisions, Journal of Plasma Physics, Vol:83, ISSN:0022-3778
et al., 2017, Spectral and spatial characterisation of laser-driven positron beams, Plasma Physics and Controlled Fusion, Vol:59, ISSN:0741-3335