- High energy density physics
- Dusty Plasmas
- The MAGPIE pulsed-power generator: dense Z-pinch and laboratory astrophysics research
- Laser Plasma Interactions
- Laser Plasma Theory
- MACH and Extreme Physics research: : Convergent shock waves, high speed flyers and New X-ray sources
- Tokamak Research
Fundamental Plasma Physics
The group carries out fundamental research into laser-plasma interactions, plasma spectroscopy and charged particle acceleration. In particular interactions between plasmas and short pulse lasers (~1 ps) have produced world records in electron acceleration, harmonic generation and self-generated magnetic fields. In addition to onsite facilities, the group is a major user of the Central Laser Facility (Rutherford Appleton Laboratory) and several other key laser systems in the world, including Lund (Sweden) and the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, US).
Our onsite experimental facilities also include the Mega Ampere Generator for Plasma Implosion Experiments (MAGPIE), which is used to study wire array Z-pinch implosions. As the world's most powerful and efficient laboratory X-ray sources these are widely used in indirect drive ICF experiments. To this end, the MAGPIE team has close collaborations with Sandia National Laboratories, the University of Cornell and the US Department of Energy (DOE). The facility is also used to generate plasma jets that resemble those observed in astrophysical situations, providing an experimental basis for astrophysics research (laboratory astrophysics).
Controlled Thermonuclear Fusion
One of humanity's vital quests today is to harness the power source of the sun in a controlled laboratory environment for a new source of energy. The concept originated with the groundbreaking work of Sir George Thomson in our group. Being one of the main driving forces behind plasma physics research, the group continues to engage in both aspects of Inertial Confinement Fusion (ICF) and magnetic confinement fusion (MCF) research.