The project is aimed at developing a new generation of laser ion sources.
This research aims to develop a new type of ion source by shining a powerful laser beam on to a small piece of metal, plastic, or a liquid. The laser's energy causes intense high-energy ionising radiation to be ejected from the surface. This novel technology has wide ranging applications from cancer treatment and forensics to critical fault diagnosis and three dimensional chemical and structural analysis. For instance, laser-energised protons and ions could cut the cost and footprint of future cancer treatments by removing the need for large, expensive delivery systems. Other applications lie in science and industry. Firing a flash of ions at an object or component can reveal information about its internal structure, and be useful in engineering diagnostics and quality control of semiconductor electronics devices. Flash radiography using these beams could also test satellites destined for earth orbit for resilience to high levels of cosmic rays, or reveal faults in rapidly moving components such as turbine blades.