CERN Accelerating science

by Alexandra Welsch (University of Liverpool)

The Horizon 2020 Design Study EuPRAXIA targets the preparation of a conceptual design report for the world’s first plasma-based accelerator at 5 GeV with industrial beam quality and two user areas. The laser systems to be used as drivers for the laser-driven plasma acceleration process and as part of the laser injector are crucial for the success of the project. Their development and optimization are addressed within Work Package 4 of this pan-European project. On 18 May 2016 experts from within this Work Package held a first Topical Workshop on the laser system at the synchrotron SOLEIL in France. 

At the beginning of the event highlights from current and future laser development projects, including the Extreme Light Infrastucture (ELI) project, the APOLLON, and the ILIL PW facilities were presented. These lasers shall cover energies ranging from ten Joule up to kilo-Joule, pulse durations from attoseconds to hundred femtoseconds, and repetition rates from one shot per minute to 10 Hz. It was emphasized that these projects needed tremendous investments and major developments in new materials arising from research projects launched as early as 2006.

A wide range of laser technologies and quite different architectures emerged from this overview, suggesting a range of potential solutions for the development of the future EuPRAXIA laser concept. A “100 cube” operating point was considered, providing 100 Joule, 100 fs pulses at 100 Hz, with a contrast of 1010 at 10 ps. Whilst ambitious for a scientific laser issued in 2025, it was found a generally realistic scenario, with warnings about a potentially longer timescale needed to attain an "industrial" version of such a system.  The key parameters and overall design will now be further investigated within the Design Study.

These ongoing developments will now be put into a bigger context. EuPRAXIA is organizing a Workshop on a European Plasma Accelerator in Pisa, Italy between 29 June to 1 July 2016 at Area della Ricerca del CNR, Pisa, Italy hosted by Istituto Nazionale di Ottica - CNR. This event will be open to the communities of conventional facilities, lasers and novel accelerators, to discuss the unique scientific and industry opportunities arising from the EuPRAXIA design.