It's 'Beam On' for first experiments at Daresbury Laboratory's CLARA

5 November 2018

The first user experiment at Daresbury Laboratory’s CLARA accelerator could pave the way for future accelerators that are ten times smaller and up to a hundred times cheaper to build.

CLARA is a unique particle accelerator designed specifically to develop, test and advance new technologies for the next generation of Free Electron Laser (FEL).

What is a FEL?

A FEL is unparalleled in its capability as a light source, providing the brightest source of x-rays to researchers, and will be responsible for many significant scientific breakthroughs in most areas of science, changing our lives for the better. Its capabilities have already been proven in a number of areas; understanding new ways of controlling mosquito-borne diseases is one example. But the technology is still at a relatively early stage, and with very few FEL research facilities in existence, it is extremely difficult to test new ideas and developments experimentally.

Dr Yuri Saveliev

Dr Yuri Saveliev.
(Credit: STFC)

Led by Dr Yuri Saveliev, of STFC’s Accelerator Science and Technology Centre, the experiment, which is the first of its kind in the UK, involves firing short bunches of electrons at the speed of light through a device known as a Dielectric Wakefield Structure. The aim is to test its performance and positive effects that could significantly improve the performance of a FEL accelerator. If successful, the experiment will be a major step towards creating the UK’s ‘Wakefield’ source of tuneable terahertz (THz) radiation.

On the electromagnetic spectrum, THz waves sit between microwaves and infrared light waves, and have wavelengths ranging from tens of microns to a few millimetres. Over the last couple of decades they have attracted a lot of attention for their promising applications in a wide range of areas of science, from medicine, surveillance to computing and communication. However, current fixed THz sources cannot cover the full variety of applications; the potential for a tuneable THz source would bring about new exciting opportunities and potential for major scientific breakthroughs in these fields.

Dr. Saveliev said: The potential impact of our experiment is significant, and could bring us exciting prospects for the future of our next generation light sources. This is technology that could one day change people's lives for the better”.

This experiment marks the start of a busy experimental programme for CLARA and follows CLARA’s first invitation for user experiments at Daresbury, which was met with an overwhelming response. CLARA will continue to operate flat out with a full schedule of experiments for UK and European researchers and institutes, working closely with our scientists here at STFC.

Last updated: 09 November 2018

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