`This is a list of potential thesis topics for students starting in October 2014. The links in the list are to the further details which follow on this same page.
For students starting in October 2014 we have a number of STFC studentships to use on topics of our choice. These studentships provide full support to UK students. Students with other funding are welcome to apply for any of the listed topics.
Tokai to Kamioka Neutrino Oscillation Experiment
The Oxford T2K group is eager for new D.Phil students to join. We received our first data in November 2009 and have mostly been taking data since. With the build-up of the neutrino beam intensity, now is an excellent time to join the experiment. For information about the group's activities and potential thesis analysis work, please see our home page at http://www2.physics.ox.ac.uk/research/t2k/thesis-topics
For more information, contact Dr Giles Barr (g [dot] barr1 [at] physics [dot] ox [dot] ac [dot] uk) or Dr Alfons Weber (a [dot] weber1 [at] physics [dot] ox [dot] ac [dot] uk)
Updated 25.11.11, G Barr
CDF Experiment at Fermilab Tevatron
The CDF experiment at the Fermilab Tevatron has a dataset of nearly 10/fb of 2 TeV proton-antiproton collisions and is finalizing its measurements of the Higgs boson, top quark, and W boson. The results from the Tevatron are better than those of the LHC for the Higgs branching ratio to b-quarks, the top quark mass, and the W boson mass. A factor of two further precision on the W boson mass is achievable with the full CDF dataset, raising the possibility of indirectly observing evidence for new physics with this measurement. Oxford physicists have been at the forefront of the CDF W boson mass measurement for nearly ten years, and a new student would have the opportunity to play a lead role in the final legacy measurement.
Updated 20.3.13, C Hays
The Quest for New Physics
ATLAS is an experiment optimized to perform precision measurements of the Standard Model and to conduct direct searches for New Physics beyond the Standard Model at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN in a multitude of final states.
The ATLAS and CMS experiments announced on 4 July 2012 that they discovered a particle consistent with the Standard Model Higgs boson. The next step will be to determine the precise nature of the particle. Are its properties as expected for the long-sought Higgs boson, the final missing ingredient in the Standard Model of particle physics?
In parallel the ATLAS experiment is searching the recorded proton-proton collision data for signs of New Physics beyond the Standard Model because it is certain this model can only partially describe nature. It only incorporates three of the four fundamental forces, leaving out gravity. Based on astronomical observations it seems likely that the model can only describe a small fraction of the universe and does not contain a candidate to describe the dark matter and energy postulated to explain astronomers observations.
The ATLAS detector ran successfully during LHC operations and recorded roughly 27 fb-1 of proton-proton collision data which has not all been analysed yet. Major responsibilities of the Oxford ATLAS group include:
- Physics Analyses
- Detector Performance Studies
- R&D towards an upgraded ATLAS detector for the HL-LHC
New PhD students are expected to work in a combination of the above areas. Each of our students is also expected to spend one year or more at CERN. ATLAS D.Phil supervisors are ATLASAcademics [at] physics [dot] ox [dot] ac [dot] uk (Alan Barr, Amanda Cooper-Sarkar, Claire Gwenlan, Chris Hays, Todd Huffman, Cigdem Issever, Richard Nickerson, Georg Viehhauser, Jeff Tseng and Tony Weidberg).
Potential graduate students are encouraged to contact supervisors if they have any questions.
Updated 11.03.13, C Issever
B physics and CP violation at LHC at CERN
LHCb makes precision studies of CP violation in the decay of beauty and charm ('heavy flavour') hadrons at the CERN LHC. LHCb searches for physics beyond the Standard Model by investigating departures from the unitarity of the CKM matrix and checking whether or not this provides a consistent picture of the CP-violation mechanism. These studies can provide valuable insight into the mechanisms responsible for matter-antimatter asymmetry in the Universe. The experiment also has high sensitivity to new physics effects by looking for enhanced rates of heavy flavour decays that are extremely rare in the Standard Model, or in unexpected kinematical distributions of these decays.
The LHCb detector has already run successfully since the first LHC operation, and has collected a wealth of data. Major responsibilities of the Oxford group involve the analysis of physics data (CP violation, rare B decays and charm physics), hardware for the Ring Imaging Cherenkov (RICH) and Vertex (VELO) detectors, and working towards an upgraded LHCb detector. The RICH detectors provide particle identification of pions, kaons and protons over the momentum range from 1 to 100 GeV/c, and the VELO reconstructs B-decay vertices to a precision of around 150μm.
A new graduate student would be expected to work on a combination of the following areas:
- Undertake a significant LHCb data analysis, towards a study of the physics of CP violation, rare decays or charm. A major physics interest of the Oxford LHCb group is in the measurement of the CKM angle gamma. We are currently analysing data in the family of channels B→ D0 K with the D0 decaying into 2-,3- and 4-body final states. In addition, the group are measuring rare phenomena in the neutral charm system, such as CP violation and mixing. We are also active in searching for very rare beauty and charm decay channels, and are studying the properties of b-baryons. In addition we are pursuing studies in diffractive physics and QCD, for which the unique forward acceptance of the experiment brings many advantages. A new student could expect to work in any one of the above areas, or develop an alternative analysis effort which is commensurate with the general interests of the group.
- Oversee the operation of the high-speed on-detector electronics, data links and data-acquisition for the RICH system, and monitor the performance of the detector and its readout system. Organise the magnetic calibration of the RICH photon detectors and associated data analysis. Maintain the calibration of the RICH system’s performance using real data. Of particular interest is the calibration method of cleanly detecting a background-free sample of K’s and π’s from D*±→ D0 (→K π) π±, and Λ0 → pπ decays.
- Monitor the data quality of the VELO detector, and also the opening and closing characteristics of the silicon planes.
- Develop software and hardware for an upgraded LHCb detector. This could include studies of the physics performance, R&D for the upgraded VELO detector, and R&D for the upgraded particle identification system (RICH or TORCH).
Students would usually be expected to spend a year or more at CERN. The thesis supervisor will be Neville Harnew (n [dot] harnew1 [at] physics [dot] ox [dot] ac [dot] uk) or Malcolm John (malcolm [dot] john [at] physics [dot] ox [dot] ac [dot] uk) or Guy Wilkinson (guy [dot] wilkinson [at] cern [dot] ch)
Further information can be obtained from any of the above people, or from the LHCb-Oxford website http://www-pnp.physics.ox.ac.uk/~lhcb/index.shtml
Updated 15.11.13, N. Harnew
Experiments in preparation:
SLHC stands for Super-LHC. This is an upgrade to the Large Hadron Collider that is planned for 2020. The students would work for one year on design and testing of electronics components, cooling or laser systems for a detector that will eventually replace the ATLAS detector, gaining valuable experience in hardware and detector system design and in the coordination and data analysis in radiation test beams. At the same time, and then full time starting in year 3, the student will be taking part in the data analysis effort on the running ATLAS experiment. All of our activities in SLHC will count towards service requirements for authorship on ATLAS publications. You can look at their web site and thesis topics to get an idea of what analyses will be available.
For more information please visit: http://www.physics.ox.ac.uk/atlas/Group_Activities/tracker_upgrade/hardware.aspx
Updated 15.11.10, T Huffman
Neutrino Physics at the SNOLAB facility in Canada
SNO+: Neutrino Physics at the SNOLAB facility in Canada
Some of the most exciting physics to emerge over the last decade has been in the field of neutrino physics. One of the forefront experiments here has been the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNO), based in Canada. The SNO group at Oxford have played a leading role in solving the "Solar Neutrino Problem" and clearly demonstrating, for the first time, that neutrinos exists as mixed states which allow them to apparently "oscillate" from one type to another. SNO stopped taking data in November 2006, though further analysis will continue for a couple more years. However, on the heels of this tremendously successful project, a follow-on experiment is being pursued with a remarkably diverse and interesting range of physics objectives. SNO+ will use a modified version of the instrument to 1) measure other fundamental solar neutrino processes (thereby also investigating details of neutrino-matter couplings); 2) search for non-standard modes of nucleon decay; 3) study neutrinos generated from within the earth; 4) act as an excellent detector for neutrinos from galactic supernovae; and 5) search for a very rare process called "neutrinoless double beta decay." An observation of the latter would both permit a determination of the absolute neutrino masses and would establish that neutrinos act as their own antiparticles, which could have consequences for our understanding of the matter/antimatter asymmetry in the universe. This area of study is considered to be of extremely high importance in particle physics and would constitute a primary focus for the experiment. The project is anticipated to have a rapid timescale, with first data to be taken in 2012. The incoming PhD student would participate in simulation, calibration, operation, analysis and the production of first results.
For further information, contact Professor Steve Biller (steven [dot] biller [at] physics [dot] ox [dot] ac [dot] uk) or visit the website http://snoplus.phy.queensu.ca/
Updated 22.10.10, S. Biller
The nature of dark matter remains one of the biggest unsolved mysteries in modern science and accordingly a number of facilities worldwide are operation or are being designed for detecting dark matter particles. The Oxford dark matter group are members of the LZ collaboration, who are designing and constructing a large liquid xenon time projection chamber, aimed to detect interactions from dark matter particles. LZ will be housed in the Davis Campus of the Sanford Underground Research Facility in South Dakota, USA. LZ will inherit infrastructure and water Cherenkov detector of LUX. For further detail, see http://www.sanfordlab.org/
Possible thesis topics include the design and construction of central instrumentation for LZ as well as studies and simulation of the detector to ensure excellent sensitivity for dark matter detection in an ultra-low background environment.
Supervisor: Professor Hans Kraus hans [dot] kraus [at] physics [dot] ox [dot] ac [dot] uk
29.11.13 H Kraus
Search for oscillation at short baseline of the BR2 MTR reactor
Recent re-analyses of Gallium and reactor experiments with short baseline have unfolded unexplained deficits in the measured rate of observed electron neutrino compared to prediction at the level of 2.7 sigma.
An explanation of these reduction of rates could be due to the presence of one or more additional neutrino in a "sterile" form with a mass of 0.1-1 eV which doesn't interact via the standard weak interaction. A fraction of electron anti-neutrinos would oscillate to sterile neutrinos and vanish at short distance without noticeable changes in longer baseline oscillation experiments.
If this hypothesis is correct it could be the most surprising discovery beyond the standard model.
SoLid will place detectors at a very short distance of the BR2 research reactor to search for active to sterile neutrino oscillations. SoLid detectors are based on a novel approach developed in Oxford which uses the fine segmentation of the target volume to image the anti-neutrino interaction and reduces the impact of other background interactions.
The SoLid experiment is scheduled to start a short first phase at the end of 2014 and will run for 2 years in 2016 until end of 2017.
The Oxford group is the leading institution in SoLid and this is the perfect time for a new graduate student to join this experiment. Work is available at Oxford in the following areas:
- detector construction and operation: At the time the student will join the project the construction of the main detector modules will start and this is a great opportunity for a new student to get hands on experience in the construction and testing of a new detector.
- Development of reconstruction algorithm: with the possibility to look at spatial topology of antineutrino interaction, new reconstruction tools are required to improve the detector efficiency and reject effectively other background.
- undertake the main sterile neutrino data analysis: as Oxford will play a leading role in the analysis which has potential for ground breaking results, a new student would have a central role in this analysis effort.
For further information, contact
Dr A. Vacheret(antonin [dot] vacheret [at] physics [dot] ox [dot] ac [dot] uk) or
Professor A. Weber (alfons [dot] weber [at] physics [dot] ox [dot] ac [dot] uk)
You can also visit the website [url=https://www2.physics.ox.ac.uk/research/mars-project/solid[/url]
29.11.13 A Vacheret
Further Details - R&D projects
Development for LHCb, CDF and ATLAS
This is your chance to make a contribution to the development of the next generation of the Internet!
The world-wide-web changed the way we share and distribute information but has done very little to make computing power or data storage more assessible. So the aim of the Grid is to build on existing Internet protocols and to develop 'middleware' which will allow simple and transparent use of resources wherever they may be world wide. We will also need to change our applications so that they can take advantage of the Grid infrastructure and run efficiently in this complex environment.
There are many challenges to developing a Grid that will deliver the kind of robust, high-performance system required. Computing in the LHC era, for instance, will require computing clusters with tens of thousands of nodes, and each experiment will accumulate data at a rate of about one million gigabytes per year. To cope with this scale of computing and data, experiments will have to put globally distributed resources at the physicists’ fingertips. Particle physicists are therefore heavily involved in providing requirements for the Grid, in developing higher levels of the middleware, and in providing a real-world use case for the early deployment of software. They are working with researchers in computer science and many other fields, often pursuing novel solutions to these awesome challenges.
In Oxford, we have three experiments actively involved in Grid Development: LHCb, Atlas and CDF. We have a growing group consisting of 1 lecturer, 3 full time software engineers and two E-science graduate students. We enjoy close collaboration with the computer science department in Oxford, and Grid students normally undertake some of their first-year course work within that department. Specific areas of interest for graduate students include distributed systems, system testing and validation, job submission optimisation, task monitoring and error recovery. Students work closely within the various experiments and Grid collaborations which includes many UK institutions, CERN and Fermilab. Students will be required to develop excellent programming skills and also a detailed understanding of the computational needs of big science projects. We are expecting to have more E-science studentships available to start in October 2004 so please contact us if you are interested.
For more information see our local Grid pages or contact Ian McArthur (I [dot] McArthur [at] physics [dot] ox [dot] ac [dot] uk) or Jeff Tseng (J [dot] Tseng1 [at] physics [dot] ox [dot] ac [dot] uk).
Updated 1.12.03 I.McArthur
Silicon Detector R&D
The Silicon Detector R&D group (group leader Dr Andrei Nomerotski, a [dot] nomerotski [at] physics [dot] ox [dot] ac [dot] uk) is developing fast and precise silicon sensors for applications in Particle Physics and beyond. The latest generation of detectors has made increasing use of silicon sensors for vertexing, tracking and calorimetry of particles produced in high energy collisions. The future trend is in a smaller pixel size using integrated approach in which the sensor and electronics are combined in a monolithic silicon device. Possible thesis projects will involve design and characterization of novel CMOS sensors for particle tracking detectors; and development of fast pixel sensors for mass spectrometry and atomic probe microscopy.
Precision physics at the future linear colliders depends on excellent vertexing to identify long-lived particles such as b- and c-quarks. This will be crucial for the study of a number of important new physics processes, including those predicted by Higgs and Supersymmetric models. The novel pixel detectors by the SpiDeR (Silicon Pixel Detectort Research) and PLUME collaborations will be based on the deep submicron CMOS processes, which allow for considerably intelligence at the pixel level such as time stamping, internal buffering, amplitude measurements and so on. The sensors will be thinned to ~50 microns to reduce multiple scattering of passing particles and assembled into ladders. The necessary physics studies will determine the most desirable vertex detector geometry and explore the physics reach of linear colliders.
Possible applications of the new silicon technologies are wide ranging. The PImMS (Pixel Imaging Mass Spectrometry) project is developing a fast imaging sensor for use in a next-generation time-of-flight mass spectrometer (TOF-MS) with unique imaging capabilities. For each mass, the new instrument will image its scattering distribution to determine velocity or spatial distribution with high precision to complete velocity or spatial distribution of the ions at their point of formation. This will take mass spectrometry from its current role as a one-dimensional 'weighing' technique into a multi-dimensional world, in which spatial, velocity, and even coincidence information is provided as a function of mass. The same sensor will have multiple other applications, for example, in the atom probe microscopy. The group is also involved in a Time-of-Flight Positron Emission Tomography (TOF-PET) project using silicon photomultipliers.
For more information contact Dr Andrei Nomerotski (a [dot] nomerotski [at] physics [dot] ox [dot] ac [dot] uk). http://www.physics.ox.ac.uk/LCFI/default.htm
Updated 22.10.10 Dr A Nomerotski
John Adams Institute for Accelerator Science
The John Adams Institute was founded in April 2004 as one of two Institutes of Accelerator Science in the UK. The institute is a joint venture between Oxford University and Royal Holloway, University of London. The current R&D projects are focused on the area of synergy between laser and plasma physics and accelerators; on research towards novel compact light sources and FELs; on design studies for future colliders and neutrino factories; on development of advanced beam instrumentation and diagnostics; on development of new accelerator techniques for applications in medicine, energy, and other fields of science; and research towards upgrades for existing facilities such as ISIS, Diamond, LHC, and new facilities such as ESS. The institute is developing connections with industry, aiming to render the benefits of accelerator science and technology accessible to society. The Institute also has a vigorous outreach programme. Opportunities in a wide variety of research areas exist, as indicated below.
The sections shown below describe the thesis topics available at JAI in Oxford. For the thesis topics at JAI in RHUL please visit this page. The Rutherford-Appleton Laboratory may also offer joint RAL-Oxford studentships in accelerator topics. For further information see this page http://www.astec.ac.uk/groups/beams/ and contact Dr Chris Prior (chris [dot] prior [at] stfc [dot] ac [dot] uk).
Updated 9.11.10, A. Seryi
Linac Coherent Light Source upgrade (LCLS-II: Undulator Developments)
The LCLS is the world's first hard X-Ray free electron laser which is producing exciting new physics from many areas of science https://slacportal.slac.stanford.edu/sites/lcls public/Pages/Default.aspx/.
The proposed upgraded machince LCLS-II https://slacportal.slac.stanford.edu/sites/lcls public/lcls ii/Pages/default.aspx/ uses variable gap undulators to produce tuneable X-Rays over a wide spectral range. The wavelength of the X-Rays depends critically on the undulator gaps and therefore there need to be controlled to micron levels along the entire length of the FEL.
The JAI has developed and patented an absolute distance measurement technology based on Frequency Scanning Interferometry that has been successfully used to measure the gaps of a prototype undulator at SLAC. SLAC have therefore decided to incorporate this technology directly into the design of their future undulators through the JAI.
A future student on this project would work on the development of the FSI system, its integration into the undulators and the simulation of the performance of LCLS-II and its dependence on the undulator calibration and gap monitoring system.
The expertise gained from the undulator developments can then be deployed on the JAI's programs for the development of compact X-Ray FEL's based on plasma wakefield accelerators.
There is also scope for involvement in future commercial applications of the technology which are currently being developed through the AMULET and CAOX projects.
For more information please contact Dr Armin Reichold (a [dot] reichold [at] physics [dot] ox [dot] ac [dot] uk).
Non-destructive Beam Diagnostics
The need for single-shot, compact, relatively inexpensive and non-destructive diagnostics capable to determine the electron bunch parameters in dictated by the rapid developments in the field of laser-driven particle acceleration. The capability to define the electron beam spatial and temporal structure is a vital for development of next generation of particle accelerators, colliders and light sources. We aim to develop single short diagnostics exploiting coherent Smith-Purcell, Transition and Diffraction radiations. The technique used for the diagnostics is generic and can be applied to observe compact source of coherent radiation as well as for steering and compression of electron bunches. The analytic theory and computer models are developed at Oxford University. We also design and machine complex periodic structures and targets for further implementation at the different accelerator facilities (SLAC, RAL). Our group has sufficient understanding of the main theoretical and technical issues relating to SP, Transition and Diffraction Radiation to be position as a world leading research group.
The research suggested is on relativistic femtosecond electron beam interaction with complex periodic surface mono and composite structures. The research will involve both theoretical and experimental studies. It will evolve from current understanding of coherent Smith-Purcell radiation to a new level allowing single short compact non-destructive diagnostics to be designed, build and tested. It is expected that the research may split into two branches with one dedicated to bunch diagnostics while another dealing with compact source of coherent radiation. It is expected that during the research the analytical and numerical models will be built and investigated at Oxford University. Also the complex periodic structures and devices based on such lattices will be designed and built using Department of Physics Engineering and Technical facilities. After construction and testing the devices will be implemented on one of the accelerators facilities either at SLAC or RAL.
For more information please contact Dr Ivan Konoplev (ivan [dot] konoplev [at] physics [dot] ox [dot] ac [dot] uk)
Artificial materials for particle accelerators and compact sources of coherent radiation
The active control of nonlinear, relativistic plasmas its confinement are essential in the development of novel, compact sources of coherent Thz and X-ray radiation, laser-plasma and wake-field accelerators. It has been also proven that plasma assistant techniques to control particle dynamics offer a number of ground-breaking solutions to make conventional devices smaller, more energy, space and cost efficient. Traditional materials cannot always satisfy all the requirements for plasma and electromagnetic field control under complex and sometime extreme conditions. Therefore, development of "dial-a-property" materials, which can be tuned to control and drive different phenomena and responses, is vital for future progress. The theoretical and experimental studies of artificial, periodic lattices which mediate the interaction between relativistic plasmas, and electromagnetic fields are novel recently formed, exciting and rapidly developing research field, which is based on more matured studies into complex, passive behaviour of electromagnetic waves coupled through metamaterials and periodic surface lattices. The objective of the research is to apply specially designed, artificial materials, to develop an understanding of the extreme plasmas behaviour in environment defined by such structures, to learn how to confine and control the plasmas, while actively interacting with it, observing either particle acceleration or coherent radiation in UV and X-ray frequency regions. We apply specially designed, artificial materials, to develop understanding of the extreme plasmas behaviour in environment defined by artificial materials and ability to confine and control the plasmas.
The research suggested is on the understanding of plasma dynamic and evolution inside dielectric vessel having corrugated surface. This will involve the study of excitation of such a structure with external source of radiation with and without plasma. Understanding of structure's resonant properties, including external electromagnetic field coupling and eigenmode formation will be also part of the research. The project may branch out to study such phenomena as Thomson and Compton scattering by electron bunches to observe compact X-ray source of coherent radiation. The different plasma instabilities and possible phenomena like wake-field and plasma beat-wave acceleration should be considered. No, doubt that the system described can be used to observe a compact source coherent THz radiation and such research is also suggested for consideration.
For more information please contact Dr Ivan Konoplev (ivan [dot] konoplev [at] physics [dot] ox [dot] ac [dot] uk)
Cherenkov Compact source of coherent radiation based on artificial lattices
The sources of coherent radiation are now playing a tremendous role in research and societal life. They become the most "influential" and important tools in wide range of applications associated with precise measurements, and machining as well as security and healthcare. It is well known fact that several emerging applications ranging from bioscience, medicine, pharmaceuticals, spectroscopy to remote sensing are all being hampered in their development and exploitation by the lack of efficient, high power sources of coherent THz, UV and X-ray radiation. It is our intention to create compact source of coherent radiation based on free electron lasing to bridge the frequencies gap. In our research we consider a collective interaction of electromagnetic radiation with electron beam inside a periodic lattice formed by either periodic fields such as static magnetic field (FEL) or by artificial periodic materials (Cherenkov lasers). The use of the artificial lattices provides control over non-linear and non-stationary processes taking place inside the interaction region allowing new compact state-of-the-art lasers and user facilities for different applications to be developed. Complex, rich, physical phenomena exist in such systems including excitation of Surface Plasmon Polaritons inside the periodic lattice, Super-radiance and Self-Amplified Spontaneous Emission. The understanding of physical phenomena will opens up new horizons to study and develop state-of-the-art, compact THz lasers able to produce single mode, single frequency, multi-watts output power. This is very exciting and challenging subject which is still at its early stage of development with new fundamental results to be expected.
The research suggested is to realise the compact, high-power THz laser driven by a linear accelerator. The THz spectral range presents a long standing problem in source research. This arises from the absence of suitable atomic and molecular transitions which one can exploit for conventional laser action. Also as the wavelength becomes sufficiently small and the periods sufficiently short this makes standard free electron and solid state microwave techniques problematic. Recent research into the concept of 'artificial' materials has shown that they are capable of yielding a wide range of novel, ground-breaking eletromagnetic properties, which can be tailored to the requirements of applications. In some cases it will allow Cherenkov instability to develop converting the kinetic energy of the electron beam to wave field energy. Understanding of the conditions required to observe Cherenkov interaction and realisation of this potential would allow the development of powerful sources using electron beams of moderate energy and power density.
For more information please contact Dr Ivan Konoplev (ivan [dot] konoplev [at] physics [dot] ox [dot] ac [dot] uk)
Next generation light sources and compact laser-plasma acceleration driven FEL
Particle accelerators are the technology driving cutting edge research at the forefront of modern physics. Current accelerators use rf technology to produce high energy particles for collisions but these machines are large and extremely expensive. Recent progress in laser plasma based accelerators has opened the possibility of using such systems as drivers for free electron lasers (FELs) and the JAI is looking at the development of an XUV radiation source capable of generating ultrashort fs XUV pulses using this technology. The aim is to develop a source small enough to be hosted in a university sized laboratory and brings together experitse in laser-driven plasma accelerators available in Professor Simon Hooker's group in the sub-department of Atomic and Laser Physics (http://www.physics.ox.ac.uk/users/hooker/), with the JAI Accelerator Physics expertise, to provide a strong interdisciplinary environment. A PhD project is currently available on the development of such radiation sources. An additional PhD topic will encompass work on plasma acceleration with particular emphasis on advanced beam diagnostics such as Smith-Purcell radiation and other methods.
The JAI also supports active research activity on 3rd and 4th generation light sources. We have established strong links with the Diamond Light Source (http://www.diamond.ac.uk) located at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus near Didcot and are actively involved in the programmes for the improvement of the performance of the light source, with new innovation optics design and future machine upgrades. A THz source development programme has been set up in collaboration with RHUL. We are also involved in the design and optimisation of a 4th generation light source within the NLS project (http://www.newlightsource.org). Innovation, cost effective solutions are under investigation in collaboration with Diamond and other national laboratories with the aim of proposing a new national facility in the next years.
For more information about this group please contact Dr Riccardo Bartolini (r [dot] bartolini [at] physics [dot] ox [dot] ac [dot] uk)
New laser plasma accelerator technology
The Lasers for Accelerators (L4A) group at the John Adams Institute for Accelerator Science is a versatile team focused on several areas of cutting edge research on the boundary between accelerators and lasers. In particular, the group is developing an new method for laser plasma acceleration, involving driving the plasma amplitude oscillation with trains of low energy pulses. This would enable the use of tabletop lasers for plasma acceleration, rather than the use of national scale facilities as at present. In this context, the L4A group is working on the first experimental test of this method of exciting a plasma wave and developing a suitable laser to drive the oscillations by a train of pulses in order to build a 1 GeV electron accelerator operating at 1 kHz. We also work on the theoretical studies of this new approach, specifically the interaction of multiple laser pulses with a plasma.
A PhD student project is available in this area within the JAI, focused on experimental or theoretical work, or a combination of the two. The experimental side of the project would involve working on the measurement of plasma wakefields produced by trains of pulses in a plasma lab, and developing new laser technologies in our laser lab in Oxford, including investigating methods of shaping a pulse train to efficiently excite a plasma oscillation and methods of coherent combination and enhancement of photonic crystal fibre laser pulses. The theoretical side of the project involves detailed simulations of the interactions of trains of pulses with the plasma, identifying the optimal parameter space for electron acceleration and developing an understanding of an detrimental effects such as plasma instabilities. The project would suit a student with an interest in laser, plasma or accelerator science and a desire to work on an innovative approach to laser wakefield acceleration. The student would be based in Oxford, but there are opportunities to present work at international conferences and attend specialist workshops abroad. We welcome enquiries from candidates who may be interested in this project.
Supervisors: Dr Laura Corner and Dr Roman Walczak
Advanced Beam accelerator instrumentation, diagnostics and devices
FONT - The FONT group http://www-pnp.physics.ox.ac.uk/~font/ is the international leader in ultra-fast nanosecond timescale beam feedback systems for future high-energy electron-positron colliders. These feedbacks are mandatory for steering and maintaining colliding beams in all currently conceivable linear collider designs. They are also needed in single-pass electron linacs where a high degree of transverse beam stability is required, such as X-ray FELs. The key elements of the feedback are fast, precision Beam Position Monitor signal processing electronics, fast feedback processors, and ultra-fast high-power drive amplifiers. These components are designed, fabricated and bench-tested in Oxford, and subsequently deployed in beamlines for testing with real electron beams of the appropriate charge and time structure.
We work currently mainly at the Accelerator Test Facility in Tsukuba, Japan, and at the CLIC Test Facility (CTF3) at CERN. The group typically visits Japan 4 times per year, for the purpose of testing our novel feedback systems. We are developing a new phase feed-forward correction system at CTF3 and this is an exciting new project for us. Graduate students play a key role in these beam tests, and there are also opportunities to spend time in Japan, at CERN (Geneva) and SLAC (California), as well as to give posters and papers at international conferences.
We are a young and dynamic research team. Ten D. Phil. theses have been completed or are in progress and our graduates have moved on to jobs at CERN, SLAC (USA), Brookhaven (USA), DESY (Germany) and ESS (Sweden).
Thesis supervisors: Professor Philip Burrows and Dr Glenn Christian (p [dot] burrows [at] physics [dot] ox [dot] ac [dot] uk)
(g [dot] christian [at] physics [dot] ox [dot] ac [dot] uk)
Ion Sources - Enabling accelerator techniques for scientific, medical and energy applications
MICE and Neutrino Factory R&D - A 'Neutrino Factory' is a potential source of high intensity neutrino beams where the neutrinos originate from the decay of muons in a storage ring. The muon decays provide clean beams of both muon and electron neutrinos and, with a suitable (massive!) detector a few thousand km from the NF, it would be possible to perform precision neutrino oscillation measurements and possibly observe CP violation by neutrinos. Muon colliders are a possible means of reaching the highest energy lepton collisions in a relatively small space compared with electron-positron colliders.
The technical challenges of a neutrino factory or muon collider are to accelerate and store high intensity muon beams. Before the muons can be accelerated they must be 'cooled' to fit the acceptance of an acclerator. 'Ionisation Cooling' is the only way to do this. Modest cooling is required for a neutrino factory; extreme cooling is required for a muon collider.
The MICE experiment at RAL will demonstrate ionisation cooling for the first time. It consists of a cooling channel comprising several large superconducting magnets, liquid hydrogen 'absorbers' and high gradient RF cavities. Conventional particle-physics detectors are used to measure the properties of a muon beam before and after cooling. The muon beam for MICE has just been commissioned; the cooling channel will be assembled over the next two to three years. MICE will take data at various points during the assembly.
A new type of accelerator known as an FFAG (Fixed Field Alternating Gradient accelerator) has been proposed for the acceleration of muons in a neutrino factory; similar types of machine might also be used to produce high intensity proton beams for use, for example, in accelerator-driven sub-critical reactors.
A D.Phil student might expect to take part in the running the MICE experiment and the analysis of some of the first cooling data, and then apply the experience to the design of a neutrino factory or muon collider.
Thesis supervisor: Dr J. Cobb (j [dot] cobb [at] physics [dot] ox [dot] ac [dot] uk)
PAMELA - We are looking for a D.Phil. student to work on the conceptual design of a new type of accelerator, the non-scaling Fixed Field Alternating Gradient (NS-FFAG), for use in the treatment of cancer, using low-energy proton and Carbon ions. This is part of a new £8.3M EPSRC-funded project (CONFORM - Construction of a Non-scaling FFAG for Oncology, Research and Medicine) which include the construction of a demonstration accelerator (EMMA - ) at Daresbury and the design of PAMELA ( Particle Accelerator for MEdicaL Applications) in Oxford, Imperial, RAL and Daresbury. The thesis topic is likely to concentrate on the beam ejection and transfer lines. See http://www.conform.ac.uk
Thesis Supervisor: Ken Peach (Ken [dot] Peach [at] physics [dot] ox [dot] ac [dot] uk)