Brendan Loughran - Student Profile
Laboratory Astrophysics using High Repetition Rate Lasers
Lasers can produce very high energies, and when irradiated onto a target create plasma conditions which can mimic astrophysical phenomena. These plasmas can be studied in the lab using diagnostics which are unavailable to traditional observational astrophysics, such as proton radiography. The dawn of high repetition rate ultra-intense lasers (with their associated targetry) provides an opportunity to obtain large datasets (where it would have been previously impossible) to give an insight with greater detail into fundamental plasma physics, such as shock formation and magnetic field generation. The study of these phenomena is important for understanding astrophysical environments as well as laboratory plasma environments e.g. in inertial confinement fusion. This project involves carrying out experiments at laser facilities on international collaborations while simultaneously conducting simulations to complement experiments and further explore the nature of the physics. In this project I hope to also implement machine learning algorithms to optimise experimental conditions for laser-driven ion-acceleration.
I spent a year studying Chemistry & Chemical Engineering in University before transferring to Physics in Queen’s. I graduated from the MSci Physics course which included a semester abroad at the University of Alberta, Canada. This experience give me a desire to pursue further research in Physics. My Masters project involved investigating plasmas in liquids and provided me with many laboratory skills as well as introducing me to the enthusiastic atmosphere in the Centre for Plasma Physics. I highly enjoyed my project with Dr Tom Field and Prof. Bill Graham and continued on working as a research assistant in the department for 3 months after my graduation. I am excited about my PhD project having already had the opportunity to attend a fascinating experiment at RAL.
Outside of my academic life, I am a keen Irish traditional musician, fluent Irish speaker and water polo player.
- Laser-Plasma Acceleration
- Laboratory Astrophysics