Particle, accelerator, and detector physics for the biomedical sciences

The Centre for the Clinical Application of Particles works at the junction between physical and life sciences. We seek to contribute to the development of novel techniques by which to enhance experiments in the bio-medical sciences andto contribute to the development of improvements in clinical practice.

Central to our research programme is the development of new accelerator technologies and novel detector, instrumentation and image-processing techniques. The technologies and techniques that we shall develop will be deployed in experiments that seek to elucidate the micro-biophysical processes that underpin the impact of ionising radiation on tissue and in clinical applications. In collaboration with Zulfikar Najmudin, and the Imperial Laser/Plasma Physics Group and the JAI we are developing the Laser-hybrid Accelerator for Radiobiological Applications, LhARA. This is a novel accelerator optimised to serve a systematic programme of radiobiology. The beam will be sent either to an end-station for in-vitro experiments or injected into a post accelerator to boost its energy to that required for in-vivo or high energy in-vitro experiments. The technologies that are envisaged for LhARA are required to deliver, for example, the nuSTORM neutrino source and PRISM – the proposed successor to COMET.

Key topics in the development of LhARA include:

  • The development of a second prototype of the strong-focusing plasma lens (the Gabor Lens) and the characterisation of this prototype using a variety of beams; and
  • The development of a concept for the post-acceleration of the low-energy ion beams.  The post-accelerator is based on the novel ‘Fixed Field Accelerator’ concept. The work will be carried out in collaboration with the R&D effort for the upgrade of the ISIS synchrotron at RAL.

In collaboration with the Institut Curie in Paris we are working on the simulation of nuclear interactions in tissue and,  in collaboration with the Particle Physics Department at RAL, we are working towards the design of detection system to locate the Bragg peak in real time.


In addition to the opportunities afforded by the STFC quota studentship positions, the CCAP seeks candidates for two graduate-student programmes that will be executed with two of its key partners.

Development of LhARA:

Joint PhD programme with the JAI and PPD at RAL

A student joining this programme will work on the development of the LhARA beamline, its instrumentation, and the design and evaluation of the experimental end stations.  The low-energy beamline is particularly challenging, needing very low mass or non-intercepting diagnostics. The fixed-field accelerator proposed for LhARA requires novel instrumentation to be developed using techniques that have synergy with those required for the upgrade of the ISIS spallation neutron source at RAL and those that are exploited in the accelerator driven reactor (“energy amplifier”) at the KURNS laboratory in Kyoto. The group is active in international collaborations and the successful applicant will have the opportunity to work at CERN, in Paris, or in Vienna. Collaboration with personnel from the ISIS and Kyoto groups is a possibility.

Compact accelerator systems in collaboration with CERN:

CERN Doctoral Student Programme

A student joining this programme will work on the development of compact linear or circular accelerators capable of delivering a variety of ion species. While at CERN the student will have the opportunity to contribute to a variety of programmes such as the ion-source characterisation programme and the development of a detailed design for, and simulation of, the multi-ion facility. The student will also contribute to the development of LhARA and be involved in the proof-of-principle experiments which we plan to execute on the Plasma Group’s new laser facility.

The CERN Doctoral Student Programme provides a bursary for up to three years while the student is resident at CERN. At CERN, applications are accepted in two batches, with deadlines in the spring and autumn. We have identified co-supervisors at CERN and will support you in the preparation of a successful application for a position in the CERN Doctoral Student programme.


Ken Long (,
Jaroslaw Pasternak (,
Ruth Mclauchlan (Charing Cross Hospital,,
and Zulfikar Najmudin (