Plasma wakefield acceleration of highly relativistic electrons with FLASH

The Helmholtz Virtual Institute (VI) on plasma wakefield acceleration (PWFA) of highly relativistic electrons brings together leading accelerator centres in Germany and worldwide to address topics at the forefront of accelerator research. The VI enhances the prospects of the field of plasma-based acceleration by building on the initial steps that have been taken recently in establishing it as a comprehensive research topic in Hamburg. The VI builds on the award to Foster of an Alexander von Humboldt Professorship at DESY and the University of Hamburg in summer 2011. A significant fraction of the resources of the Humboldt chair are devoted to research areas contributing directly to the VI, which brings together many of the world’s leading laboratories in the field of plasma wakefield acceleration. The programme of the VI benefits from unique facilities at the partner labs, particularly DESY but also LBNL and SLAC, to make significant progress in the task of accelerating bunches of particles with good beam quality to high energies. The understanding of the basic mechanisms via a number of key targeted experiments involving high-quality beams using state-of-the-art diagnostic techniques and high-precision timing forms the core of the VI’s programme. Exploiting our expertise on simulation of the basic processes also forms a key part of the VI’s activities. The additional expertise on lasers at the University of Hamburg rounds off the capabilities which are centred on the unique and sophisticated electron accelerators and Free Electron Lasers at DESY.