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Leaky Light Sail Route to High-Quality Proton Beams

High-power lasers can produce electric fields one million times stronger than in conventional accelerator structures, such as the LHC, and could soon lead to compact GeV particle sources, which can fit into a university lab or hospital facility. A recent theoretical breakthrough in laser-based ion acceleration has been made by Dr. Bin Qiao, a Humboldt Scholar at JSC over the past year. During his stay, he studied a form of radiation pressure acceleration, in which a short, circularly polarized laser pulse is used to accelerate a nanometre-thick foil close to the speed of light. Using an extensive series of high-resolution particle-in-cell simulations on JUROPA, Dr. Qiao was able to demonstrate the feasibility of a new variation of this scheme - the 'Leaky Light Sail' - which is capable of producing stable 100 MeV proton beams with lasers 100 times less powerful than previously thought necessary.
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(Contact: Dr. Paul Gibbon, ext. 1499)