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Accelerator Physics at Lancaster University

Along with our colleagues in the Lancaster University's Engineering Department, the members of the Lancaster accelerator physics group are part of the Cockcroft Institute of Accelerator Science and Technology based at the Daresbury Science and Innovation Campus near Warrington, Cheshire.

Particle accelerators are powerful tools that lie at the heart of research into particle physics but also play major roles in fields such as medicine. Wherever a beam of high-energy particles or light can be of use, particle accelerators offer a solution.

There are always demands for particle beams with higher energies and higher intensities, but there are limitations to what can be achieved using the accelerators of today. Some of these limitations are practical ones determined by cost and size whereas others are fundamental and relate to unanswered questions about the ways in which charged particles interact with electromagnetic fields. We use our expertise in particle physics and mathematical physics to address these limitations.

On the experimental side of our work we investigate such questions as how to produce sufficient amounts of anti-particles to make intense beams and how we could re-use existing accelerator technologies to look for new particles, without having to make particle beams at all... On the theoretical side we develop new effective classical and quantum theories for analysing matter in extreme conditions, with implications for cosmic particle acceleration as well as for experiments in the laboratory.

Key Research

  • The development and design of high-flux sources of positrons and gamma-rays for future high-energy colliders and other applications. For example, developing the positron source for the International Linear Collider.
  • Simulating the dynamics and interactions of polarised particle beams.
  • Leading the CASCADE collaboration in its search for weakly-interacting sub-eV particles such as axions using radio-frequency cavities.
  • Investigating wave propagation in spatially dispersive media and photonic structures.
  • Exploring radiation reaction in ultra-intense laser-plasmas as members of the ALPHA-X collaboration.