Plasma wakefield acceleration is a relatively new method of particle acceleration that is being developed for use in innovative accelerator devices. The idea is decades old, but practical realization was made possible only recently by developments in the technology of high-intensity, femtosecond pulsed laser sources. One of the leading projects in plasma wakefield acceleration is the AWAKE Collaboration at CERN, which aims to build an electron accelerator with a high energy proton beam to drive the plasma wake [E. Adli et al., Nature 561, 363 (2018)]. The central element of this accelerator device is a 10 m long vapor cell where a long plasma is generated by a high-intensity, ultrashort laser pulse. There will be two such cells in future versions of the accelerator device. Producing a plasma of this length is an elaborate physical problem on its own because of all the nonlinear processes that are associated with ionization and the propagation of the laser pulse.
The Laser Particle Accelerator Technology group at the High-Energy Physics Department of the Wigner RCP conducts research in several areas of innovative particle acceleration methods. In particular, the group is a member of the AWAKE Collaboration, we take part in investigating the laser-matter interaction that generates plasma in rubidium vapor. The PhD. student will take part primarily in the work associated with AWAKE, investigating the interaction between high intensity laser pulses and rubidium vapor. Our aim is to understand how the strong nonlinear interaction between the pulse and the vapor influences plasma generation in the vapor cell along which the pulse propagates. We also develop diagnostic measurements to determine the properties of the plasma channel. Experimental work at the Wigner RCP is conducted in a well equiped, modern optical laboratory with a powerful femtosecond pulsed laser system. The prospective student will participate in work which is conducted with a wide international collaboration. The work is primarily experimental, but depending on interest, some theoretical work may also be in line (mostly numerical simulations). A succesful student may have the possibility to participate in the work at the AWAKE location at CERN as well.
The prospective student should possess a masters degree in physics/engineering and should have good problem solving skills and an interest in doing experimental work with lasers / optics. No prior experience is required, all knowledge can be acquired during the initial phase of the work.
Having computer skill with the Python language is an advantage for processing experimental data and C++ programming skills are an advantage for possible participation in numerical simulations.