New Virtual Institute for Plasma Acceleration to be Established at DESY

Posted on July 9, 2012


A new Virtual Institute, which will make use of plasma wakefields, is to be established at DESY (DeutschesElektronen-Synchrotron(German Electron Synchrotron)).

The newly established Virtual Institute “Plasma wakefield acceleration of highly relativistic electrons with FLASH” will do basic research to explore the possibilities of using the extremely high electric fields created in a plasma to reliably accelerate high-energy electrons.

Simulation of an electron bunch in a laser driven plasmawave. (Source:

Plasma wakefields have the potential to accelerate particles over very short distances, thus offering a promising technology for future accelerator applications. FLASH (the Free-electron LASER in Hamburg) is a superconducting linear accelerator with a free electron laser for radiation in the vacuum-ultraviolet and soft X-ray range of the spectrum.

“With FLASH, we have the ideal facility to make a big step forward with this kind of research” said Prof. Brian Foster, Alexander von Humboldt Professor at the University of Hamburg and DESY, spokesman of the virtual institute.

“The high-energy electrons from FLASH II have a very precise spatial and temporal structure and are perfectly suited to characterise the plasma. Eventually, we want to accelerate reliably not only single electrons but the whole bunch. To achieve this, we still have to put a lot of effort into our beam diagnostics – to synchronise the plasma and electron beam, femtoseconds make the difference,” Prof Foster said.

The project will be funded for five years by The Helmholtz Association, which is a community of 18 scientific-technical and biological-medical research centres in Germany.

Posted in: News, Technology