Some of the largest particle accelerators in the world can speed-up charged particles very, very close to the speed of light. However, they all are large scientific machines - some of them several kilometers long. Over the past decade, an alternative, compact way of accelerating charge particles to very high energies has emerged, using high power laser systems. Recent advances in high power laser technology has enabled acceleration of charged particles â€“ especially electrons - to near-light speed in a very compact plasma channel: a few mm as opposed to hundreds of meters required in a conventional accelerator. Recent experimental campaigns have accelerated electrons to energies over a Giga electron Volt, similar to a conventional synchrotron, but in a centimeter-long channel. Just like in synchrotrons, these electrons also emit copious amounts of nearly coherent x-rays during the process of acceleration in the plasma channel, offering new sources for time-resolved x-ray imaging of condensed matter, including biological tissues. I will give an overview of the field, describing the latest developments and future directions.
Rajeev obtained PhD in Laser-Plasma Physics from Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in 2003 and was a NSERC Research Fellow at the National Research Council, Ottawa, Canada during 2003-2007, working on Attosecond Science and Nanoplasmonics. Rajeev joined the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in 2007. He heads the Gemini laser facility â€“ one of the most powerful laser facilities in the world - since 2009. Rajeev is an associate member of the John Adams Institute, University of Oxford and a visiting faculty member at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research. He also leads a section of the European project, EuPRAXIA, which aims to design 5 GeV plasma-based accelerator. Rajeev is also a member of the UK Plasma Acceleration Steering Group and he currently coordinates RALâ€™s India activities under the Newton program. He has co-authored over 60 peer-reviewed publications in laser-plasmas and associated fields.