Alternative Accelerator Technology:

Proton Acceleration by using a Laser

The diamond detector (Photo: Dennis Schumacher, Montage: Simon Busold)

In November the LIGHT collaboration successfully conducted an experiment at GSI's PHELIX laser with the aim of producing temporally compressed proton bunches. The acceleration of the ions is driven by the PHELIX laser, while beam transport and shaping is done with conventional accelerator technology: a magnetic solenoid, a radiofrequency cavity and quadrupole magnets.


Based on the special properties of the laser-driven source, intense single bunches can be created and efficiently recompressed in energy or time. In the latest experiment such single pulses, containing up to 109 protons at energy of 7.8 MeV, could be compressed to less than 500 picoseconds bunch length. The characterization of these was only possible with a specially designed diamond detector, constructed by the GSI's detector laboratory.


LIGHT is a collaboration of TU Darmstadt and GSI Darmstadt, Frankfurt University, the Helmholtz Institute Jena and Helmholtz Center Dresden-Rossendorf. Within the ARD research program it investigates novel accelerator concepts and the latest experimental results represent a major milestone. The installation of a similar beamline at the APPA cave at FAIR is discussed for diagnostic purposes. However, already now applications are possible with the current setup and the material science department conducted a first experiment at the LIGHT beamline at Z6.

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