Plasma accelerator research and training boosted by EU funding
High level fellowships will carry out an interdisciplinary and cross-sector plasma accelerator research and training program for the new EuPRAXIA research infrastructure.

The EuPRAXIA Doctoral Network (EuPRAXIA-DN) is a new Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Doctoral Network (MSCA-DN) offering 12 high-level fellowships between universities, research centres and industry that will carry out an interdisciplinary and cross-sector plasma accelerator research and training program. The network will start on 1 January 2023 and benefit from more than 3.2 M€ of funding over its 4-year duration.

Several tens of thousands of particle accelerators are in use today with varied applications in research, industry, medicine and other fields. Yet accelerator usage could be much more widespread, were it not limited by cost and size constraints, especially in hospitals, universities, and small and medium size companies. This would enable ground-breaking applications and innovations on a much larger scale.

A possible solution to this bottleneck is the development of more compact – and consequently more cost-efficient – accelerator technologies, a strategy that has been investigated in the past two decades bringing forth plasma accelerators as one of its most promising candidates.

EuPRAXIA is the first European project that develops a dedicated particle accelerator research infrastructure based on novel plasma acceleration concepts and laser technology. It focuses on the development of electron accelerators and underlying technologies, their user communities, and the exploitation of existing accelerator infrastructures in Europe. It was accepted onto the ESFRI roadmap for strategically important research infrastructures in June 2021 as a European priority.

Expected impact of EuPRAXIA on different fields. (Image credit: EuPRAXIA)

To fully exploit the potential of this breakthrough facility, advances are urgently required in plasma and laser R&D, studies into facility design and optimization, along a coordinated push for novel applications. EuPRAXIA-DN will focus on scientific and technical innovations and on boosting the career prospects of its Fellows. The project comprises a lot of the European expertise in this research area and involves 10 universities, 6 national and international research centres, as well as 7 partners from industry at project start.

Scientific Coordinator Prof Carsten P Welsch, University of Liverpool/Cockcroft Institute and INFN-LNF, said: “I am absolutely thrilled that this new Doctoral Network was selected for funding in such a highly competitive scheme. Plasma accelerator research is at the cutting edge of technology and our Fellows will carry out R&D in a highly interdisciplinary field that shows great promise for scientific discovery and technology innovations.”

EuPRAXIA-DN’s main scientific and technological objectives are split into three closely interlinked work packages. The first one will tackle an overall optimization of the accelerated electron beam by carrying out comprehensive studies into the best laser and plasma parameters. A second work package targets studies into the design and optimization of laser- and beam-driven plasma accelerator facilities, specifically through the development of superior beam diagnostics and synchronization technologies as required for optimum beam quality. Finally, network partners will join forces to enable breakthrough science measurements and innovative applications.

The high-tech company Instrumentation Technologies develops high-performance, customized data acquisition and data processing instruments for particle accelerators, cancer treatment facilities, nuclear research reactors, space, and industrial applications. In the particle accelerator market, the company is known under the brand name “Libera” as the global leading provider of beam diagnostics. Instrumentation Technologies’ highly specialized and experienced engineering team helps solve challenges in:

  • High-speed signal acquisition and processing
  • All kinds of communication protocols
  • FPGA programming and Linux hacking
  • EMC certification assistance

Manuel Cargnelutti, Head of Libera Business Unit at Instrumentation Technologies:
“I’ve been working at Instrumentation Technologies for ten years now: I started as a Software Engineer, and my following roles were Product Manager and Sales Engineer. For the past five years, I’ve been responsible for the entire business unit working in the field of particle accelerators and nuclear research reactors. Our customers are across Europe, North America, Asia, and Australia.
I find stimulating the flexibility and trust granted to each employee, together with the ability to propose new ideas and carry them out with the support of others, regardless of the role or seniority. I feel privileged to work in an advanced and innovative sector in constant contact with international customers and be able to travel the world.”

10 Fellows will be funded from the Horizon Europe MSCA-DN funds, and 2 additional Fellows will be funded by the UKRI guarantee funds. All students will be enrolled into a structured PhD program and benefit from a combination of local and network-wide trainings within EuPRAXIA-DN. This includes courses at the different host institutions, alongside network-wide trainings which will be made available to the wider scientific community. Excellent salaries will be offered. The application deadline for all positions is 31st January 2023.

More information can be found on the network’s homepage:

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon Europe research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 101073480 and the UKRI guarantee funds.

2 Fellows will be funded by the UKRI guarantee funds under project EP/X027112/1.