Conventional accelerator technology – based on radio-frequency manipulation of particles – is limited to acceleration gradients of less than 100MV/m, requiring the need for multi-km scale facilities in high energy particle physics experiments. Such technology also requires complex equipment and control measures to enable femtosecond resolution in temporal measurement and control of particle bunches.
Terahertz radiation presents the potential means to overcome these challenges, enabling acceleration gradients several orders of magnitude higher than at radio frequencies. Furthermore terahertz accelerators have the possibility to be inherently synchronized to femtosecond precision, with multiple critical systems driven by a single pulsed laser system.
Led by Steve Jamison (ASTeC), the Dielectric and Terahertz Acceleration (“DATA”) programme brings together experts in terahertz radiation, dielectric and metal waveguide design and accelerator physics to meet the goal of terahertz-driven particle acceleration. The programme encompasses ASTeC research activities centered on the LAser, Terahertz and Terawatt Experiments (“LATTE”) laboratory with postdoctoral and postgraduate research projects taking place at the universities of Manchester, Lancaster, Liverpool and Strathclyde.
Members of the DATA programme in the CLARA electron beam hall; from left to right: David Walsh (ASTeC), Morgan Hibberd (Manchester), Andrei Gorodetsky (Lancaster), Daniel Lake (Manchster), Alisa Healy (Lancaster), Edward Snedden (ASTeC), Steven Jamison (ASTeC), Darren Graham (Manchester) and Graeme Burt (Lancaster).
The DATA programme has access to a variety of laser systems based at Daresbury Laboratory and the Photon Sciences Institute at Manchester University, encompassing pulsed femtosecond and picosecond pulse durations spanning visible and near-infrared output frequencies. An extensive range of optical diagnostic systems is available to provide appropriate optical diagnostics, including fast photodiodes, oscilloscopes, cross-correlators and energy meters.
The LATTE laboratory at Daresbury Laboratory is situated adjacent to the VELA linear accelerator[link], a 5 MeV RF electron gun capable of delivering 100-1000 fs duration electron bunches to multiple target points. Vacuum-based laser beam transport systems allow laser light from the LATTE laboratory to be brought directly into the accelerator hall and combined with the VELA electron bunches in experimental chambers designed for such purposes. Femtosecond-precision overlap between electron bunch and laser systems is made possible through synchronization to the accelerator timing architecture.