Like London busses…

A good week for the group as two new papers are published at almost the same time!

Here’s one about laser pulse compression and power amplification in a laser-driven plasma wakefield accelerator. Interesting experimental observations in their own right, but also critical to the evolution of the accelerating structure in a plasma and opens up the possibility to control electron acceleration in a plasma through tailoring of the laser pulse shape.

And here’s one about using active feedback to control the laser pulse shape and enhance x-ray production from a clustered gas jet. This is somewhat linked to the other paper but instead of trying to be clever and optimise the pulse shape ourselves, we just give over control to a genetic algorithm to do the hard work for us. We then have a cup of tea while the experiment optimises itself, and then return to take all the credit! We hope to implement these techniques in all future facilities based on high-intensity laser-plasma interactions to improve and stabilise performance, but it also allows us to discover the important physics by examining the best (and worst) results.

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