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AWAKE – Plasma Wakefield Acceleration

Example for a plasma source that could be used in the AWAKE experiment. The plasma has similar properties to the gas used in fluorescent tubes.
Example for a plasma source that could be used in the AWAKE experiment. The plasma has similar properties to the gas used in fluorescent tubes. (Photo: A. Griesch/MPP)

The AWAKE Research Group at the MPP is investigating a new method to accelerate particles to high energies. The method involves injecting a proton beam into a plasma, i.e. an ionized gas. En route, the protons entrain negatively charged plasma electrons and thus generate a kind of bow wave. If a beam of electrons is injected at a suitable point in time, they are carried along by the wave – just like a surfer riding a wave.

The research seeks to reduce the distance that is required to accelerate particles. The technique is particularly suitable for linear accelerators – and is a lower-cost alternative to the concepts proposed for the International Linear Collider (ILC) or the CERN Compact Linear Collider (CLIC).

Current research

The 10-meter long plasma cell of the AWAKE experiment at CERN
The 10-meter long plasma cell of the AWAKE experiment at CERN (photo: Maximilien Brice/CERN)

The MPP is currently collaborating with international partners to set up the AWAKE experiment at CERN in order to achieve this objective. The Group is investigating methods that will allow the energy of the proton sources currently available – the LHC, for example – to be used for AWAKE. The aim is for the proton beam to generate charged waves in a plasma over a distance of 10 to 1,000 meters. This will allow electron beams to be accelerated up to the teraelectronvolt energy range (TeV, one million gigaelectronvolts).

A plasma accelerator would then need only 85 centimeters to accelerate electrons to an energy of 50 gigaelectronvolts. The SLAC particle accelerator, an experiment currently underway, needs 3 kilometers for this.

More information on the AWAKE group

News releases

12/19/2016

Success reported from the AWAKE project: Researchers have succeeded for the first time in generating a wave-shaped plasma field with the aid of a proton beam – an approach which paves the way for a completely new type of particle accelerator. In the future, the scientists involved plan to accelerate...

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02/19/2016

How can accelerator experiments reach ever-higher energies? The AWAKE project uses a completely new technology to increase energies produced in particle accelerators by an order of magnitude. A key component was now put into place at CERN: a ten-meter-long plasma cell developed at the Max Planck...

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08/26/2014

Preparations for the new Proton Driven Plasma Wakefield Acceleration Experiment (AWAKE) at CERN have begun. The AWAKE team at the Max Planck Institute for Physics in Munich is preparing to move both equipment and know-how to CERN.

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Group members

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Braunmüller, Falk

Scientist 417

Caldwell, Allen, Prof. Dr.

Director 529

Fior, Gabriel

Student 561

Hüther, Mathias

PhD Student 561

Martyanov, Mikhail, Ph.D.

Scientist 221

Moody, Joshua, Ph.D.

Scientist 221

Muggli, Patric, Prof. Dr.

Scientist 580

Pena, Felipe

Student 561

Rieger, Karl

PhD Student 561

Öz, Erdem, Dr.

Scientist 417

Events and meetings

AWAKE Meetings at the MPP

Key publications

Path to AWAKE: Evolution of the concept
A. Caldwell et al.
Science Direct, Volume 829, 1 September 2016, Pages 3–16

AWAKE, The Advanced Proton Driven Plasma Wakefield Acceleration Experiment at CERN
E. Gschwendtner et al.
Science Direct, Volume 829, 1 September 2016, Pages 76–82

Plasma wakefield acceleration with a modulated proton bunch
A. Caldwell et al.,
Phys. Plasmas 18, 103101 (2011)
arxiv:1105.1292

Proton-driven plasma-wakefield acceleration
Allen Caldwell, Konstantin Lotov, Alexander Pukhov & Frank Simon
Nature Physics 5, 363 - 367 (2009)

Electron trapping and acceleration by the plasma wakefield of a self-modulating proton beam
K. V. Lotov, A. P. Sosedkin, A. V. Petrenko, L. D. Amorim, J. Vieira, R. A. Fonseca, L. O. Silva, E. Gschwendtner and P. Muggli
Phys. Plasmas 21, 123116 (2014)
http://dx.doi.org/10.1063/1.4904365