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PhD student

Laser acceleration of charged particles for applications in medicine, industry, and nuclear fusion research

This theoretical PhD project is directed towards improving the basic understanding of generation and acceleration of charged particles by strong laser fields.

High-energy beams of protons and light nuclei are utilized in hadron cancer therapy in a number of clinics around the world. Ion lithography schemes head for practical application and nuclear fusion research continues to gain in importance. In addition, considerable effort is being devoted to research into the fundamental forces of nature. In all of these applications, charged particles - electrons, ions, muons, etc. - are accelerated by costly conventional accelerators. As it was shown in theoretical model calculations, tightly focused laser fields can accelerate particles to the high kinetic energies required [see: Y. I. Salamin, Z. Harman, C. H. Keitel, Phys. Rev. Lett. 100, 155004 (2008)]. The revolutionary development of laser systems opens fascinating new possibilities in the field of laser acceleration and may enables in near future the construction of low-cost table-top accelerators.

The PhD candidate is expected to carry out analytical and numerical model calculations with a many-body system dynamically driven by laser fields, in the framework of relativistic quantum mechanics and classical electrodynamics. From the theoretical side, Zoltan Harman and Christoph H. Keitel are available for providing support to the project.

Candidates should have a master or equivalent degree in physics and be highly motivated to work on a challenging theoretical project. A solid background in theoretical physics is desirable and experience in theoretical atomic, optical or plasma physics and numerical simulations is an advantage. Fluency in English is required.

Please send your application including CV, list of publications/scientific contributions and MSc certificate by email to Zoltán Harman.

Multi-particle quantum dynamics in moderately intense laser fields

The existence of controllable light sources at any frequency ranges and in various materials is of particular importance. Therefore, this topic has recently been receiving great attention both theoretically and experimentally.

We are seeking a highly motivated candidate to investigate the problem of coherent-light generation, and its control, by an ensemble of atomic systems with permanent dipole moments such as some biologically relevant molecules in the presence of a moderately strong coherent wave. In particular, we shall focus here on amplifications as well as directional emission of desired light via various quantum interference phenomena.

The candidate is expected to carry out analytical calculations in the framework of Quantum Optics in moderately strong fields. A background in quantum optics/physics is required and some experience with multi-particle systems is desired.

The research project will be carried out at the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics (MPIK), Saupfercheckweg 1, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany, as well as at the Institute of Applied Physics, Academiei str. 5, Chisinau, Moldova. Please send your application by email to Mihai Macovei.

Nuclear quantum optics problems in a theoretical framework

Nuclear quantum optics offers many fascinating research subjects at the interface between atomic, optical and nuclear physics. The search for versatile tools for enhancing preparation, control and detection in nuclear physics, and the possibility of coherent manipulation of nuclear states is inspiring the start of a new generation of physicists. The incentive of nuclear quantum optics experiments is provided by upcoming large-scale experimental projects such as the Extreme Light Infrastructure in Paris and the X-ray Free Electron Laser in Hamburg, designed to bring laser-matter interaction in a new and unsurpassed regime of laser intensity and frequency.

We are seeking a PhD student to address nuclear quantum optics problems in a theoretical framework. Topics of interest would be the study of coherence and possible optical devices in gamma radiation, precision metrology involving nuclear clocks, or the controlled release of nuclear energy on demand, leading to practical applications such as nuclear batteries.

Applicants should have a MSc degree or equivalent and a strong background in theoretical physics. The applications should include a full scientific CV, academic records documenting the complete course of studies and the names and email addresses for two references. The successful candidate is expected to be highly motivated, fluent in English or German and have good interpersonal communication skills.

Please send your application including CV, list of publications/scientific contributions and MSc certificate by email to Adriana Pálffy.

Particle acceleration and short-wavelength radiation generation in ultra-intense laser-plasma interaction

After the advent of chirped-pulse amplification (CPA) technique in late 80s, there has been a constant push for reaching new laser intensity frontiers. Current state of the art systems can produce a peak laser intensity Il ≈ 1022 W/cm2 with few femtoseconds long pulse duration. Interaction of such an intense laser pulse with the ordinary matter converts the latter into the so-called plasma state. Intense laser-plasma interaction is a frontier area of research and has many exciting applications ranging from the laser-driven fusion to the building of the compact advanced particle accelerators and next generation radiation (x-rays) sources. At ultra-high intensities Il >> 1022 W/cm2, there is a need to take into account the effects of the radiation reaction force on the particle dynamics and quantum electrodynamics (QED) processes, such as electron-positron pair-production, on the collective plasma dynamics of the particles. The radiation reaction force and pair-production cause strong laser-energy depletion in the ultra-relativistic regime of the laser-plasma interaction. These two processes effectively could provide an efficient laser-energy coupling to plasma particles, leading to enhanced particle acceleration and copious amount of short-wavelength radiation generation. This project focuses on the detailed analytical and numerical investigation of the influence of the QED effects on particle acceleration (both electrons and ions) and short-wavelength radiation generation in plasmas. For carrying out the numerical studies, a particle-in-cell (PIC) code (written in Fortran 90)-which runs on several hundred processors on the MPIK cluster-including the radiation reaction force and pair-production is employed.

Working on this project will provide a good opportunity to learn about the current state of the research in the areas of the advanced particle accelerators and new generation of short-wavelength radiation sources. Moreover, knowledge about the plasma instabilities and particle-in-cell simulation method in laser-plasma interaction will be gained, which are indispensable tools for research in the intense laser-plasma interaction. The candidate is expected to carry out both analytical and numerical investigations under adequate guidance, and should be ready to learn about the scientific computation/visualization tools such as Matlab and VisIt.

Please send your application including CV, list of publications/scientific contributions and MSc certificate by email to Naveen Kumar.