Recent experiments have demonstrated that by shining powerful laser beams on small physical targets (e.g. metals, plastics or liquids), intense energetic beams of ionizing radiation (e.g. beams of ions, protons, neutrons, electrons, gamma and x-rays) are produced. The type of radiation emitted depends on the dimensions and composition of the targets; these factors also determine the unique spatial and temporal properties of the radiation sources, which have an extremely small size (of micrometer order - a millionth of a meter) and emit ultra-short radiation bursts (of picosecond duration, i.e. a millionth of a millionth of a second). Development of basic source technology will provide compact and flexible sources with optimal properties for use in industrial and medical context. We identify protons, ions and gamma rays as the products with the highest potential benefit to society, and will concentrate our efforts on developing sources of these radiation types.
Applications of this technology are envisaged in the following areas:
The proposed project aims to develop the relevant technology for high-flux, high-repetition source delivery and characterisation, while achieving the standards of output beam quality and reliability essential for the above applications. These will be achieved via a combination of innovative developments in target production and delivery, detector technology, beam property optimization and control.
The aim of this proposal is to develop the basic technology required to enable the generation of laser energised radiation sources with unique and optimised properties and high repetition rates. This will require technological development regarding targets, delivery systems, interaction environment, and detectors. By applying this improved technology, we aim to demonstrate optimized source properties and carry out preliminary application tests. Each of these tasks will be divided in a number of Work Packages. Coordination of the Work Packages will be through a project management committee formed from the project partners. To produce an integrated radiation sources the consortium will fabricate an interaction vessel where all the elements of the proposal can be individually tested and then combined together. This vessel and the associated diagnostics will be transferred to the institutions of the consortium as required for periods of between 4-6 months for radiation source properties demonstrations and initial tests of medical/biological interest. Low-medium energy and integration tests will be conducted using the TOPS and TARANIS laser systems at Strathclyde and Belfast, respectively, and high energy tests will be conducted by using the Gemini system at RAL (commissioned late 2008).
SPECIFIC OBJECTIVES :
• To develop extensive new target technology to facilitate > 1 Hz laser interactions for the production of beams of high-energy ions, protons and ?-rays from the same laser system.
• To develop the necessary interaction and shielding systems for debris free laser-target interactions that are able to cope with a > 1 Hz rate operation (gas load, debris etc).
• To experimentally and theoretically optimize new and novel target materials, constructions, shapes, techniques, processes etc, using existing systems supported by state-of-the-art modelling, to tailor the properties of these beams.
• To develop new, novel and comprehensive diagnostics that are capable of 10 Hz operation to measure the parameters of interest for each type of particle beam.
• To demonstrate particle source properties suitable for use in scientific, technological or medical applications.
• To demonstrate the suitability of ions sources for medical applications via biological and dose deposition tests.