EuPRAXIA-DN School on Plasma Accelerators

The EuPRAXIA Doctoral Network (EuPRAXIA-DN) held a week-long international School on Plasma Accelerators between 22nd and 26th April 2024 in the beautiful Botanical Garden of Rome, Italy. The school were hosted in partnership with INFN and Sapienza University of Rome with strong support from the University of Liverpool/Cockcroft Institute.

EuPRAXIA-DN School on Plasma Accelerators Group Photo. (Image credit: QUASAR Group)

This interdisciplinary school brought together all research areas within EuPRAXIA-DN with lectures and topical talks from research leaders from both academia and industry. It attracted nearly 70 participants including EuPRAXIA-DN Fellows, invited lecturers and external participants from organizations across Europe and the UK.

The extensive program covered the basic principles of plasma accelerators, including the fundamentals of plasma physics, laser- and beam-driven acceleration, plasma injection schemes, plasma and beam diagnostics, particle-in-cell codes, as well as specific high impact projects such as EuPRAXIA and AWAKE.

One of the school highlights were three seminars given by world-leading experts after a series of intense lectures and discussions. These include a lecture on the ‘History of Plasma Accelerators’ by Professor Victor Malka on the first day of the school, covering the key developments and challenges of Plasma Accelerators. Another special lecture was given by 2023 Nobel Laureate Professor Anne L’Huillier from EuPRAXIA-DN partner Lund University. The inspiring lecture on ‘Ultra-short Laser Pulse Generation and Applications’ took participants through her research career from very early stages through many years of work behind the Nobel Prize. The third seminar was on ‘the AWAKE Experiment at CERN’ by the AWAKE project leader Dr Edda Gschwendtner. This is another important plasma wakefield acceleration research project that is included in the ESFRI strategic roadmap.

Invited speaker Nobel Laureate Prof Anne L’Huillier in dialogue with esteemed members of INFN and the University of Liverpool at the EuPRAXIA school. (Image credit: QUASAR Group)

Throughout the week, participants had many opportunities to interact with invited lecturers and other participants. In the study session on the second day, participants were split into smaller groups to solve problems given by the lecturers. This exercise helped reinforce the content of the lectures they received. School participants also had a lively poster session on the fourth day where they presented their own research results and discussed them with other researchers. The participation of external participants in this event was crucial for promoting knowledge exchange and establishing links among researchers working on similar topics.

The school was complemented by a day excursion to the INFN National Laboratory of Frascati (INFN-LNF). The program of the day was dedicated to lectures by colleagues from INFN-LNF. Participants spent the afternoon learning about the history of INFN and were treated to a tour of the lab facilities at INFN-LNF.  

The tranquillity of the school venue also played an important role in stimulating engagement and discussion among participants. School participants were encouraged to explore and enjoy the beauty of the Botanical Garden in spring through a flower photo contest. Winner of the photo contest was Andrea Angella from Lund University with a fascinating capture of pink azalea and Rome in the background. This extra curriculum activity was seen as a fond memory for many participants.

The winning photograph of the flower photo contest. (Image credit: Andrea Angella)

University of Liverpool/Cockcroft Institute had active involvement in the school through various activities. Dr Joe Wolfenden gave a lecture explaining the fundamentals of ‘Beam Diagnostics for Plasma Accelerators’ and some common diagnostic problems. Joe along with other QUASAR group members Dr Hao Zhang and Dr Debdeep Ghosal also facilitated the group discussion during the study session. Project T.E.A.M members in particular had significant contribution to the school with their support on logistics preparation and media services. 

We would like to cordially thank all invited lecturers for their contribution. Special thanks go to Professor Andrea Mostacci and colleagues from INFN for their fantastic efforts in the organisation of the School.

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