Quebec City, January 17, 2013 - Professors Jean-Claude Kieffer, François Légaré, and Patrizio Antici of the INRS Energy Materials Telecommunications Research Centre will play a leading role in developing a new type of particle accelerator using laser wakefield acceleration. More affordable and effective than existing types, the accelerator will be able to produce a new generation of compact light sources for life science and medical applications. The project led by University of Saskatchewan professor Emil Hallin and conducted in partnership with University of Alberta researchers has received a grant from the Canada Foundation for Innovation Leading Edge and New Initiatives Funds ($543,440) and Québec's Ministère de l'Enseignement supérieur, de la Recherche, de la Science et de la Technologie ($183,052).
This project builds on the ultra-short laser application research work conducted at the Advanced Laser Light Source (ALLS), led by Professor François Légaré, and at the University of Saskatchewan's Canadian Light Source (CLS). These two major infrastructures (laser and synchrotron) use photons to study materials in very different ways with wavelengths ranging from infrared to X-ray. By combining these two complementary approaches at INRS, Canadian researchers will for the first time have access to intense, ultra-short, and coherent light sources for life sciences, manufacturing, environmental, and earth sciences applications.
All of the devices and equipment required for this particle accelerator will be installed at the Energy Materials Telecommunications Research Centre's Advanced Laser Light Source in Varennes and used in conjunction with the 200 TW laser currently in operation at the centre. INRS researchers have already successfully produced electron beams with novel properties using the laser wakefield acceleration technique, which is based on the use of ultra-intense and ultra-short laser pulses. The laser wave creates in its wake a wave at near-light speed that generates very large electric fields with much greater amplitude than larger accelerators.
"This project will allow INRS researchers, in collaboration with other Canadian universities, to help advance photonics research in Canada and play a role in this leading-edge field on the international level with a view to developing new technologies adapted to the clinical setting," said INRS scientific director Alain Fournier.
Institut national de recherche scientifique (INRS) is research intensive university which offers graduate level training. It ranks first in Canada for research intensity (average grant funding per faculty member). INRS brings together some 150 professors and close to 700 students and postdoctoral fellows at its four centres in Montreal, Quebec City, Laval, and Varennes. Its applied and fundamental research is essential to the advancement of science in Quebec and internationally, even as it plays a key role in the development of concrete solutions to the problems faced by our society.