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Research Area A.3

Laser-based high-energy particle and x-ray source

In recent years, a quantum leap in the resolving power of X-ray diagnostics was reached by synchrotron-based phase-contrast imaging. As a future standard in hospitals, this technique might revolutionise early cancer detection. Cancer treatment, however, has benefited from ion beams allowing highly efficient local therapy of tumours. Currently, both approaches require large-scale particle accelerators which are beyond the scope of most hospitals.

In Research Area A.3 "Laser-based high-energy particle and x-ray sources" we shall use the new CALA infrastructure to develop laser-driven secondary sources of brilliant ultrashort-pulsed particle and X-ray beams. We pursue the generation of powerful attosecond pulses up to 1 keV and beyond, the optimisation of laser-driven electron acceleration for a compact X-ray undulator source (LUX) and for proof-of-principle studies towards a laser-driven X-ray FEL (LXL), the commissioning of a compact laser/synchrotron Thomson source (BRIX) for 10-35-keV X-rays and its upgrade to higher flux with MAP enhancement-cavity technology, the development of a laser-based Thomson source for energies > 50 keV (SPECTRE) and advancing laser-driven ion (LION) beams up to > 100 MeV/u energies. These developments may allow for studying, in real time, the fundamental microscopic processes including those responsible for the emergence of cancer and helpful in curing cancer (time-resolved radiation biology), see Research Focus B (Probing and controlling electrons), and pave the way towards a cost-effective implementation of advanced X-ray imaging and particle therapy with a compact, laser-based apparatus, a prospect to be explored in Research Focus C (Biomedical imaging and radiation therapy with brilliant X-rays and particle beams).

Main objectives for 2012-2017:

a) Generation of isolated soft-X-ray (--> 1 keV-->) attosecond pulses with unprecedented energy (--> 100 nJ --> 1 yJ -->) by high harmonic generation from atomic gases and relativistic plasma surfaces

b) Development of a laser-driven undulator X-ray source (LUX) up to photon energies of several 10 keV and demonstration of a laser-driven FEL (LXL) in the extreme ultraviolet/soft-X-ray regime

c) Commissioning and instrumentation of a compact laser/synchrotron Thomson source producing brilliant X-rays in the 10-35 keV range (BRIX) and subsequently boosting its flux by orders of magnitude with MAP's world-leading enhancement-cavity technology

d) Development of a laser-driven Thomson-scattering X-ray source (SPECTRE) which complements BRIX bay producing radiation above 50 keV and  - when driven by PFS-pro - will match the BRIX flux, opening the door for its application to advanced medical imaging and radiation therapy with brilliant X-rays

e) Creation and continuous development of a laser-driven ion source (LION) by scaling radiation pressure acceleration to > 25 MeV/u with ATLAS-300 and --> 100 MeV/u --> with ATLAS-3000


Deputy coordinators