Christopher Thornton

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Christopher Thornton

DPhil Student

I graduated with a First Class honours degree in Physics from Kings college London in 2011 and then completed a 12 month Masters Programme at Imperial College London. During that time I developed a passion for experimental physics, completing a 4 month project concerned with long length plasma production for Particle Wakefield accelerators. I subsequently joined Prof. Simon Hooker's research group at the University of Oxford in 2012, focusing on laser wakefield acceleration.

Demonstrator In 2013/2014 to 1st year undergraduates in Matlab, this course aims to introduce physics students to programming and towards the end of the course how they apply that knowledge to solve real physical problems. For more information about the undergraduate course see :

http://www-teaching.physics.ox.ac.uk/computing/

Tutoring In 2014/2015 I will be tutoring first year students at New College Oxford in Optics. The tutorials will focus around problem sheets set in the optics class and are designed to improve the students knowledge and problem solving skills. The course material and problems for this class can be found at :

http://nmr.physics.ox.ac.uk/teaching/optics.html

My research focusses on laser wakefield acceleration, this is a novel acceleration scheme in which a high intensity laser ($1 \times 10^ W m^{-2}$) interacts with an under dense plasma, to form an accelerating cavity. This accelerating cavity can sustain electric fields up to 1000 times larger than can be sustained in conventional RF cavities, this means that a bunch of electrons can be accelerated to energy of 1GeV on a distance of 3cm.

Most of this work is carried out at large laser facilities, such as the ASTRA-Gemini laser facility at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL), which provides access to systems capable of generating laser intensities of $1 \times 10^ W m^{-2}$. As well as work on these facilities, I spend time in Oxford modelling aspects of these regimes and carrying out smaller scale experiments, such as Interferometry in order to understand more about the plasma density that is used in the larger scale experiments.