PHD studentships currently available in the Centre for Plasma Physics. 

  • Proton-Boron Nuclear Fusion studies in laser-generated plasma for future ultraclean energy production > Find out more

Supervisors: D. Margarone (Queen’s University Belfast, Centre for Plasma Physics)

PhD Research Project at Queen’s University Belfast (sponsored by HB11 Energy Holdings)

January 2021 – June 2024. 

The conventional route to nuclear fusion for power generation is based on the reaction between deuterium and tritium nuclei, which yields one alpha particle and one neutron. Formidable technology challenges, however, stem from the production and handling of tritium as well as from the radiation damage and radioactivity induced by the high-energy neutrons in reactor materials. In this respect, the fusion reaction between a proton and a boron-11 nucleus to yield three alpha particles is very attractive as it involves only abundant and stable isotopes in the reactants, and no neutron in the reaction products.

In the last 15 years proton-boron (p-B11) nuclear fusion has effectively been induced by means of high-power lasers, showing an impressive progression in the reaction yield with potential multidisciplinary applications in energy industry and medicine [1-7]. However, systematic investigation of brilliant alpha-particle sources through laser-driven p-B11 fusion has to be carried out with the aim to both understand the underpinning physics and enhance the fusion reaction yield.

The PhD candidate will study and select a number of laser-target geometries for the optimization of p-B11 fusion reactions in terms of yield and energy spectrum both using a numerical approach (hydrodynamic, PIC and Monte Carlo codes) and participating in experimental campaigns at domestic and international high power laser facilities, thus being part of a large international research team. Special attention will be devoted to designing and testing ad-hoc target solutions based on the given laser beam properties (e.g. pulse duration, laser intensity and contrast) and/or scientific/technological goal of the experiment. The PhD research studentship is externally sponsored by HB11 Energy Holding (

[1] V. S. Belyaev et al., Observation of neutronless fusion reactions in picosecond laser plasmas, Phys. Rev. E 72, 026406 (2005)

[2] C. Labaune et al., Fusion reactions initiated by laser-accelerated particle beams in a laser-produced plasma, Nat. Commun. 4, 2506 (2013)

[3] A. Picciotto et al., Boron-Proton Nuclear-Fusion Enhancement Induced in Boron-Doped Silicon Targets by Low-Contrast Pulsed Laser, Physical Review X 4, 031030 (2014)

[4] S. Eliezer et al., Avalanche Proton-Boron Fusion Based On Elastic Nuclear Collisions” Physics Of Plasmas 23, 050704 (2016)

[5] H. Hora et al.,Non-Thermal Laser Driven Plasma-Blocks For Proton Boron Avalanche Fusion As Direct Drive Option, Matter And Radiation At Extremes 2, 177 (2017)

[6] L. Giuffrida., High-Current Stream Of Energetic a-Particles From Laser-Driven Proton-Boron Fusion, Phys. [4] Rev. E 101, 013204 (2020)

[7] D. Margarone et al., Generation of a-Particle Beams with a Multi-kJ, Peta-Watt Class Laser System” Frontiers In Physics  8, 343 (2020)


Supervisor: D. Margarone (Queen’s University Belfast, Centre for Plasma Physics)

The fast development of high power laser technology over the past two decades has allowed to explore new regimes of laser-matter interaction under extreme conditions. Although a number of proof-ofprinciple experiments has been carried out, showing promising results in terms of societal applications with such compact approaches, laser-based secondary radiation sources (ions, electrons, X-rays) are still notfully mature for their application in medicine or industry, mainly due to difficulties in operating at high repetition-rate which, on the contrary, is of paramount importance for ensuring the average fluxes required by the applications.

Further information available here


Supervisors: Prof. Marco Borghesi (,  Prof. Kevin Prise (


This project is offered through the CITIGENS Doctoral Training Centre. Successful candidates will be employed as Early Stage Reserachers (with salary in the range £24,246.99 - £28925.25 per annum), and they will be registered for a PhD with full fees covered.

This studentship is available  for start in January 2021. Application procedure is described here. DEADLINE FOR APPLICATION: 10 July 2020.