DPhil Projects

NEW: Development of fixed-field accelerators for a future spallation neutron source

Please note this project has UK/EU funding available and we are actively looking for a student to start October 2017

High intensity hadron accelerators are vital for many future scientific facilities and societal applications. They are also a fascinating area of physics research, pushing the limits of theoretical, computational and experimental techniques. In the UK, the ISIS Neutron and Muon Source is a world leading facility producing neutrons for thousands of scientific users each year. An exciting opportunity has arisen for a student to work jointly between the John Adams Institute (Oxford) and ISIS (Rutherford Appleton Laboratory) on the development of Fixed-Field Alternating Gradient (FFAG) accelerators for a potential future neutron source. FFAGs are a strong candidate to deliver beams and a higher intensity than synchrotrons, but this has never been demonstrated. This makes it a very exciting time in the field and there are many novel topics which could be addressed depending on the interests of the student, including:
- whether beam instabilities become a limiting factor in FFAGs when the intensity increases
- how to ensure successful operation of this unique type of machine with controlled beam losses, including beam dynamics studies and collimation schemes
- the design of a prototype machine to demonstrate essential ingredients of the full-scale high intensity facility
- accurate modelling and benchmarking

I am always happy to discuss other potential PhD projects. Please get in touch.

Oxford MPhys 4th Year Projects

The Intense Beam Experiment (IBEX) is being constructed at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in collaboration with the University of Hiroshima, Japan. The experiment will investigate the dynamics of particle beams in high intensity hadron accelerators, including future upgrades to the LHC, but without using an accelerator. To do this, it relies on a non-neutral Argon plasma in a device called a linear Paul Trap, which mimics the dynamics of a beam in a particle accelerator. Two projects are currently available while the experiment is still under construction.

1. A new electron gun for the Intense Beam Experiment (IBEX)

Designing a stable and reliable electron gun is one of the key issues of the IBEX project. The electron gun is used to ionise the Argon gas, and control how many ions are present in the trap. The final goal of the project is to find the shape and electrical parameters of the electron gun to maximise the ionisation of the Argon using CST Studio, an electromagnetic modelling tool for charged particles. The resulting design, if successful, will be manufactured and used by the collaboration as an ongoing electron source. Some experience with computer programming is desirable, but not essential. Experimental work at RAL is also possible if desired.

2. Design and simulation of a new multipole plasma trap for the Intense Beam Experiment (IBEX)

Up until now only quadrupole traps have been used. A more advanced multipole trap would allow non-linear lattice elements to be simulated and broaden the range of experiments that can be conducted to include topics of real interest for future particle physics accelerators and high intensity machines. Since there are a number of topics that require study in such a trap, there is some flexibility in the project specification. Some experience with computer programming is desirable, but not essential. Experimental work at RAL is also possible if desired.

Summer Students

Improvement of beam delivery systems for proton therapy

This project would be carried out jointly with Oxford Oncology.

Proton therapy is a precise form of radiotherapy using protons instead of X-rays. It holds great promise for hard to reach tumours and for childhood cancers, but requires a room-sized particle accelerator and a system of beamlines connecting to a gantry; a beam line that rotates 360 degrees around the patient. Not surprisingly, this system is large and quite expensive. In the future, one way to make this therapy more accessible will be to improve the cost, size and flexibility of the gantry, independent of the accelerator technology. In this project, the student will review existing gantry technologies and future requirements in collaboration with Oncology and then use an accelerator design code ‘MAD-X’ from CERN to model a new type of gantry based on fixed field magnets.
This project would suit a student who is interested in particle accelerators and medical applications of physics. Some programming experience would be beneficial.

Work Experience

No opportunities at present.