PhD project: Terahertz driven linac: Shrinking the size and cost of particle accelerators
Supervisor: Dr Darren Graham


Ultrafast laser generated sources of terahertz (THz) radiation, that is radiation which sits between infrared and microwave radiation on the electromagnetic spectrum, has the potential to reduce the size and cost of particle accelerators, opening the door to new applications of accelerators in compact medical therapy, security screening, and fundamental materials science. We are seeking PhD students to work on terahertz driven particle beam acceleration, joining the DATA collaborative project at the Cockcroft Institute. The primary objective of this project will be to optimise high power ultrafast laser based terahertz radiation sources and investigate novel concepts for terahertz-based manipulation of the 5-50 MeV relativistic electron beams provided by the VELA accelerator at STFC Daresbury Laboratory. By developing new concepts for acceleration we seek to breakthrough the 100 MV/m accelerating gradient limit of conventional radio-frequency accelerating cavities, thereby enabling a new generation of table-top particle accelerators.


The Cockcroft Institute is a unique collaboration between academia, national laboratories and industry with the goal of bringing together the best accelerator scientists, engineers, educators and industrialists to conceive, design, construct and use innovative instruments of discovery and lead the UKs participation in flagship international experiments. The Institute has been heavily involved in the design, commissioning and operation of the Versatile Electron Linear Accelerator (VELA) facility which is capable of delivering a highly stable, highly customisable, short pulse, high quality electron beam to a series of test enclosures. This new facility is able to deliver a capability for the cutting edge development and qualification of advanced accelerator systems and techniques.

Terahertz time-domain spectrometer in Dr Grahamís lab

at the Photon Science Institute

Setup for characterising a large-area photoconductive terahertz antenna


This project will be focussed of laser physics and involve using a number of high-power ultrafast lasers, including state-of-the-art femtosecond laser systems in Dr Grahamís lab at the Photon Science Institute, a Terawatt laser system at the Cockcroft Institute, and high energy particle accelerators at STFC Daresbury Laboratory. Hands-on experience in the use of lasers and optical components is not essential, but the student is expected to have a keen interest in experimental physics.

Recent publication:
Nature Communications 8, Article number: 421 (2017) DOI:10.1038/s41467-017-00490-y


For further information about this or similar PhD projects contact

Applications to study for a PhD in the School of Physics and Astronomy can be made here.