Opportunities for graduate research

Here we describe potential D.Phil. research projects.

Laser-driven plasma accelerators

Plasma accelerators utilize the enormous electric fields formed within plasma waves to accelerate charged particles to high energies in a fraction of the distance needed in a conventional particle accelerator. You can find further details of our research programme in this area on our Research page.

Our lead academics are all members of the John Adams Institute (JAI), working in Oxford's sub-departments of Particle Physics and in Atomic & Laser Physics. We collaborate closely with JAI at Imperial College and with groups at DESY, Jena, MPQ and LBNL. Some experiments are undertaken in our laboratories in Oxford, at facilities based at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (just outside Oxford), or with our collaborators in the USA and Europe.

Our work on laser-driven plasma accelerators is in four areas: (i) investigation of techniques for controlling the injection of electrons into the plasma wakefield; (ii) development of new techniques for driving plasma accelerators, such as multi-pulse laser wakefield acceleration; (iii) development of techniques for driving the intense driving laser pulse over 100s of mm; and (iv) development of applications of laser-driven plasma accelerators, particularly their application to the generation of x-rays. We pursue these goals by both experiment and numerical modelling.

Projects available to start in 2020

We are looking for graduate students to work on many aspects of laser-driven plasma accelerators, starting October 2020.

There is scope for up to three new graduate students to work on numerical simulations and experiments exploring one or more of the following topics:

  •   Controlled injection in plasma accelerators driven by single and multiple laser pulses
  •   Simulations of MP-LWFAs driven by novel kilohertz, ultrafast laser systems
  •   Investigation of beam loading effects in MP-LWFAs
  •   Demonstration of electron acceleration in MP-LWFAs
  •   Experiments on guiding and electron acceleration in novel, low density (HOFI) plasma channels
  •   Simulations of novel, low density (HOFI) plasma channels

As far as possible we will seek to tailor the blend of these topics to match the strengths and preferences of graduate students joining us.

  1. R. J. Shalloo, C. Arran, A. Picksley, A. von Boetticher, L. Corner, J. Holloway, G. Hine, J. Jonnerby, H. M. Milchberg, C. Thornton, R. Walczak, and S. M. Hooker, "Low-density hydrodynamic optical-field-ionized plasma channels generated with an axicon lens," Phys. Rev. Accel. Beams 22 041302 (2019)
  2. R. J. Shalloo, C. Arran, L. Corner, J. Holloway, J. Jonnerby, R. Walczak, H. M. Milchberg, and S. M. Hooker, "Hydrodynamic optical-field-ionized plasma channels," Phys. Rev. E 97 053203 (2018).
  3. J. Cowley, C. Thornton, C. Arran, R. J. Shalloo, L. Corner, G. Cheung, C. D. Gregory, S. P. D. Mangles, N. H. Matlis, D. R. Symes, R. Walczak, and S. M. Hooker, "Excitation and Control of Plasma Wakefields by Multiple Laser Pulses," Phys. Rev. Lett. 119 044802 (2017).
  4. S. M. Hooker, R. Bartolini, S. P. D. Mangles, A. Tünnermann, L. Corner, J. Limpert, A. Seryi, & R. Walczak, "Multi-Pulse Laser Wakefield Acceleration: A New Route to Efficient, High-Repetition-Rate Plasma Accelerators and High Flux Radiation Sources," J. Phys. B 47 234003 (2014).
  5. M. Heigoldt, A. Popp, K. Khrennikov, J. Wenz, S.W. Chou, S. Karsch, S. I. Bajlekov, S. M. Hooker, and B. Schmidt, "Temporal evolution of longitudinal bunch profile in a laser wakefield accelerator," Phys. Rev. Spec. Top. Accel. Beams 18 121302 (2015)
  6. S. M. Hooker, "Developments in laser-driven plasma accelerators," Nature Photonics 775–782 (2013).
  7. N. Bourgeois, J. Cowley and S. M. Hooker, "Two-Pulse Ionization Injection into Quasilinear Laser Wakefields," Phys. Rev. Lett. 111 155004 (2013).
  8. W. P. Leemans, S. M. Hooker et al., "GeV electron beams from a centimetre-scale accelerator," Nature Physics 696 (2006),
  9. M. Fuchs, F. Gruner, S. Karsch, S. M. Hooker et al., "Laser-driven soft-X-ray undulator source," Nature Physics 826 (2009)
  10. S. Kneip, K. Krushelnick, Z. Najmudin et al.,"Bright spatially coherent synchrotron X-rays from a table-top source," Nature Physics 980 (2010).

Although Simon Hooker is formally based in the sub-department of Atomic and Laser Physics, he is also a member of the John Adams Institute for Accelerator Science, which is based in Particle Physics. Anyone wishing to join the research group must make a formal application to the sub-department of Particle Physics, stating clearly in your application that you would like to work in the area of laser-driven plasma accelerators (this will ensure that your application is seen by the correct potential supervisors). Further information about research projects available in the John Adams Institute on the JAI's web pages.

On your application form you may wish to indicate that you are also interested other projects within the realm of laser-plasma physics, many of which are formally based in the sub-department of Atomic and Laser Physics. In this case you should take advantage of the option on the application form to apply to both sub-departments.

Applicants are considered several times per year in “gathered fields”; most applicants are considered in the January gathered field, so you apply for that deadline unless you are unable to do so.

Please be aware that much of the funding we have available to support graduate students is aimed at supporting UK and EU students. However, some scholarships are available for candidates from further afield. You can find details on the university's graduate admissions pages.

Questions about the procedure for applying for graduate work in laser-plasma accelerators at Oxford should be addressed to  Sue Geddes.