Phase-contrast x-ray imaging using betatron radiation.

Phase-contrast x-ray imaging exploits the changes in the phase of x-ray beams traversing materials with different refractive index to discern the structures under analysis. The phase-contrast technique provides much higher contrast than normal absorption-contrast x-ray imaging, making it possible to see smaller details. It has become an important method for visualizing cellular and histological structures in a wide range of biological and medical studies.

The electrons trapped in a wakefield structure oscillate, producing bright short flashes of betatron radiation. EuPRAXIA could deliver the high-brilliance x-ray beams that are required for phase-contrast x-ray imaging. Their small source size, and therefore high spatial coherence, is ideal to reach the highest sensitivity.

Gamma ray sources by Inverse Compton Scattering.

Inverse Compton scattering is a process in which a charged particle, usually an electron, transfers part of its energy to a photon. Some accelerator facilities scatter laser light off the electron beam to produce high-energy photons in the MeV to GeV range which are subsequently used for nuclear physics experiments.

EuPRAXIA could provide an all optical gamma-ray source by scattering a laser off the laser wakefield-accelerated electron beam. The extremely bright gamma-ray beams emitted may be used to trigger nuclear processes like Nuclear Resonance Fluorescence and photofission.

High-energy-density physics.

High-energy-density physics is the study of matter under extreme states of pressure (from 1 megabar to 1000 gigabar). These conditions occur, for example, at the Earth’s core, the Sun’s core, and the plasmas in an Inertial Confinement Fusion reactor. This type of research is important for understanding the formation of stars, the synthesis of elements, and harnessing fusion energy on Earth.

The bright hard x-rays generated by betatron radiation in the wakefield accelerator of EuPRAXIA could be an ideal tool for probing high-energy-density plasmas. Their broadband and short pulse duration would enable new approaches to x-ray absorption spectroscopy and white light Laue diffraction.

Medical accelerator technology.

Medical applications are not explicitly included in EuPRAXIA. However, the knowledge and achievements in EuPRAXIA towards stable plasma accelerators will directly demonstrate the path to medical applications like Microbeam Radiation Therapy (MRT).

MRT is a novel form of radiotherapy which uses highly collimated, quasi-parallel arrays of x-ray microbeams of 50 – 600 keV. The extremely high dose rate and very small beam divergence of the x-ray source allows the delivery of therapeutic doses in microscopic volumes, thus reducing the impact on healthy tissue.

The technology developed in EuPRAXIA can be expected to be quickly adopted for medical applications, once its potential, stability and safety has been proven in our project.

Terrestrial reproduction of space radiation.

High fluxes of high-energy cosmic particles pose a serious threat to spacecraft electronics and crews.  Therefore, the reproduction of space radiation on Earth is crucial for testing the electronics and assessing the dose on human crews before missions. Since the generation of the broadband radiation by wakefield acceleration is much easier than the monoenergetic beams, early applications of the EuPRAXIA facility for space radiation reproduction are possible.

High-energy physics detector technology.

EuPRAXIA will provide a dedicated user area for developing and commissioning the latest detector technology for high-energy physics, like high granularity calorimeters. Detector components can profit from superior, down to sub-picosecond level, timing of beam electrons, variable number of electrons in beam bunches (from 1 to 1000), a large range of beam diameters (1 cm to 1 m) and angular divergences (1 to 100 mrad). EuPRAXIA will contribute to the development of state-of-the-art detectors providing testing environment not available at conventional facilities.

Positron sources.

EuPRAXIA offers significant potential for the development of low-emittance high-charge positron beams for applications ranging from colliders for particle physics to positron annihilation spectroscopy for material science as well as creation of positron-electron neutral charge plasma for fundamental studies of processes relevant in astrophysics. 

Towards revolutionary applications

                                               and benefits for society

Innovation Potential

Besides providing a driver beam for a Free Electron Laser, EuPRAXIA targets applications for high-quality electron beams that exploit the unique features of plasma accelerators.

The ultra-high instantaneous particle fluxes created by wakefield acceleration can be used for the characterization and calibration of novel particle detectors for high-energy physics, helping to assess sensor saturation effects, study detector resilience to high occupancy and pile-up, and develop enhanced particle reconstruction in a hostile, high-background environment.

Future generation light sources will make use of very short electron bunches, and therefore require beam diagnostics capable of measuring extreme bunch properties (e.g. electro-optical sampling). The short bunch duration of plasma-accelerated electrons is most suitable to measure precisely the intrinsic timing resolution of such beam diagnostics.

In contrast to existing irradiation facilities, the particular time structure of plasma-accelerated electron bunches coupled with their high energy can be of particular interest for studying radiation damage in components for space technology and nuclear applications, but also in material science and life sciences.

In addition to the high-quality electron beam, EuPRAXIA can provide a synchronized laser beam in the user area, which enables applications to high energy density physics, Inverse Compton Scattering, and neutral electron – positron beams.EuPRAXIA will also examine the possibility to create a secondary beam positron source of modest intensity and inject it into a laser wakefield accelerator stage