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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/K022415/1
Title: Advanced laser-ion acceleration strategies towards next generation healthcare
Principal Investigator: Borghesi, Professor M
Other Investigators:
Neely, Professor D Prise, Professor K Najmudin, Professor Z
Zepf, Professor KM McKenna, Professor P
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Academy of Science of the Czech Republic Brookhaven National Laboratory Helmholtz Association
Department: Sch of Mathematics and Physics
Organisation: Queen's University of Belfast
Scheme: Programme Grants
Starts: 21 May 2013 Ends: 20 May 2019 Value (£): 4,576,908
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Plasmas - Laser & Fusion
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
No relevance to Underpinning Sectors
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
20 Feb 2013 Programme Grant Interviews - 20 & 21 February 2013 (Physical Sciences) Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
The project aims to reach an important milestone towards the development of innovative healthcare technologies: all-optical delivery of dense, high-repetition ion beams at energies above the threshold for deep-seated tumour treatment and diagnosis (~200 MeV/nucleon). Driven from an immediate impact in accelerator science, the flexibility and compactness of the planned solutions, jointly with other potential advantages of laser-based systems, could revolutionise cancer treatment methods.

The extreme conditions reached during the interaction of an ultra-intense laser pulse with matter can lead, if suitably controlled, to the rapid acceleration of beams of ions with unique properties. The study of these laser-initiated acceleration mechanisms, and the characterization and optimization of the ion beams produced, have been, over the past decade, one of the most active and fruitful areas of high-field science. UK scientists have been at the forefront of the development of laser-driven ion sources. During the final stages of LIBRA, novel acceleration mechanisms have emerged, mostly based on the enormous pressure exerted by powerful laser pulses onto irradiated matter, which promise a step change in particle acceleration capabilities.

A key area of application of high-current ion beams (proton and carbon) is in cancer therapy. Through a series of coordinated and interlinked activities over a 6 year period, we aim to advance laser-ion acceleration to the point at which laser-driven beams will become a serious alternative to conventional RF accelerators for medical therapy. Besides offering a reduction in cost and footprint of particle therapy centres (major factors limiting their growth worldwide), a laser-driven approach would offer a number of advantageous features currently unavailable: on-demand switching between species (H and C, with options for other light ions such Be and Li) and energy control; enhanced diagnosis, with synchronized proton and x-ray pulses, and on-site isotope production for Positron Emission Tomography. Our ambition is for UK science to play a leading role in the development of high-energy ion sources, by capitalizing on the exceptional pool of expertise available to our consortium.

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Organisation Website: http://www.qub.ac.uk