Postgraduate research opportunities

Study of ultra-high charge, sub-picosecond duration, MeV electron beams from laser wakefield accelerators

The project will apply experimental and theoretical methods to studying the generation and application of MeV electron beams produced by high intensity laser pulses interacting with plasma. The unprecedented amounts of charge produced will be applied to pulsed radiolysis, sterilization, radiation damage & radiography.

Number of places



Home fee, Travel costs, Stipend


20 April 2020


12 June 2020


UK or French nationals only. Candidates must have a 1st or 2.1 honours degree (or equivalent).

Project Details

The University of Strathclyde invites applications for a PhD position to join an exciting new project developing knowledge of laser-plasma wakefield accelerators (LWFAs) (1) and investigating their applications. Students will conduct experiments at our new state-of-the-art Scottish Centre for Applications of Plasma based Accelerators (SCAPA) and international (RAL, CLPU, GSI, ELI etc.) laser facilities. Our vibrant group of experimentalists and theoreticians have pioneered advances in LWFA-driven compact synchrotron sources (2), gamma ray production (3) and generation of wide angle electron beams (4). PhD training will be given through advanced courses via the Scottish Universities Physics Alliance (SUPA) Graduate School, and tailor-made residential courses that will involve collaborators, for in depth research and gaining transferable skills. 

Our group at Strathclyde has recently shown, experimentally and theoretically, that an unprecedented high charge (10-500 nC), stable but relatively broad energy spread and divergent beam with an energy of up to several MeV can be generated by LWFA. The project will include studies on the production and application of these beams, which will also require the design of a novel beam transport line. These beams are suitable for numerous applications, including investigating high charge beams interacting with dense matter, pulsed radiolysis, investigation of the generation of free radicals at very high doses rates, de-polymerisation and imaging. The student will investigate and apply these unique electron beams as part of a DSTL funded UK-French collaboration. The objectives of the project will include beam characterisation and design of an experimental set-up at SCAPA and experiments, aided by Particle in Cell (PIC) simulations. Through collaboration with the French partner, the student will apply the beams in pulsed radiolysis and dosimetry studies (5). Further training will be provided through a minimum 6 month placement at the French collaborator institute (CEA Paris-Saclay) over the course of the PhD. The source will also be applied in various applications ranging from evaluating the propagation of high charge beams through air and other media. Emitted THz radiation and X-rays arising from the interaction will be studied too.

1. Esarey E, Schroeder CB, Leemans WP. Physics of laser-driven plasma-based electron accelerators. Rev Mod Phys. 2009 Aug 27;81(3):1229–85.

2. Schlenvoigt H-P, Haupt K, Debus A, Budde F, Jäckel O, Pfotenhauer S, et al. A compact synchrotron radiation source driven by a laser-plasma wakefield accelerator. Nat Phys. 2008 Feb;4(2):130–3.

3. Cipiccia S, Islam MR, Ersfeld B, Shanks RP, Brunetti E, Vieux G, et al. Gamma-rays from harmonically resonant betatron oscillations in a plasma wake. Nature Physics. 2011 Nov;7(11):867–71.

4. Yang X, Brunetti E, Gil DR, Welsh GH, Li FY, Cipiccia S, et al. Three electron beams from a laser-plasma wakefield accelerator and the energy apportioning question. Scientific Reports. 2017 Mar 10;7:43910.

5. Omar AKE, Baldacchino G, Monnet I, Bouniol P. Revisited water radiolysis at elevated pH by accounting O3˙− kinetics at low and high LET. RSC Adv. 2015 Oct 19;5(108):89244–53.

Funding Details

DSTL UK-France collaboration funding, only opened to UK or French nationals.

How to apply

Please send an email with your CV, with the name of 2 referees, and a cover letter to the email addresses in the contact details section to apply for this opportunity.