Funded PhD Studentship: Adaptive Control of High Harmonic Generation for Ultrafast Microscopy

Swansea University - Physics

Project Supervisors:

Supervisor 1: Dr Kevin O’Keeffe

Supervisor 2: Professor Ken Meissner

Start date: January 2018

Project description:

Imaging structure and dynamics of molecular-scale systems is fundamental to our understanding of many of the key processes in science and requires the use of probes with nanometer-spatial and femtosecond-temporal resolutions. High harmonic generation (HHG) with laboratory-scale laser systems is an attractive source of such radiation in the soft x-ray region. In this process bursts of coherent x-rays are generated via laser-driven electron-ion interactions, with pulse durations as shorts as 10s of attoseconds (1 as = 10-18sec), making them the shortest events which can be created. 

The high coherence of HHG beams makes them ideal sources for imaging. In this project structured ultrafast HHG beams will be generated for microscopy applications. The ability to shape visible laser pulses for conventional microscopy is now routine, resulting in powerful imaging techniques such as adaptive fluorescence microscopy. Extending shaping capabilities to the x-ray region will herald a revolution in what can be achieved using compact x-ray sources, with applications in Li-based energy storage, material science, and high-contrast biological imaging.

Structured HHG beams will be produced by implementing a newly developed adaptive optics technique. In combination with a recently developed x-ray metrology technique the precise structure of the HHG beam will be controlled and measured, enabling the generation of designer x-ray fields. Imaging experiments will be performed on a range of nanostructures to demonstrate the power of this technique.

This project will develop expertise in femtosecond laser technology, x-ray physics, imaging techniques, and optical metrology. Travel to collaborators and external laser facilities will be required at regular intervals throughout the project. The candidate will also have the opportunity to spend time working at the Central Laser Facility’s ultrafast beamline, gaining experience at a state-of-the art government research laboratory.  


Academic requirements:

Candidates must have a first or upper second class honours or a Masters degree (with Merit), in a relevant discipline.

Candidates whose first language is not English, we require IELTS 6.5 (with 6.0 in each component) or equivalent. Please visit our English Language Requirements page for further information.

Residency criteria:

Due to funding restrictions, this studentship is open to UK/EU candidates only.

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