Particle accelerators have been revolutionizing discoveries in science, medicine, industry and national security for over a century. An estimated 30,000 particle accelerators are currently active around the world. In these machines, electromagnetic fields accelerate charged particles, such as electrons, protons, ions or positrons to velocities nearing the speed of light. Although their scientific appeal will remain evident for many decades, one limitation of the current generation of particle accelerators is their tremendous size, typically a mile long, and cost, which often limits access to the broader scientific community. A plasma is a neutral medium composed of negatively charged free electrons and positively charged ions. Plasma can sustain electrical fields three orders of magnitude higher than that in conventional particle accelerators. Acceleration of electrons in plasmas, in particular in laser-driven plasmas, has been drawing considerable attention over the past decade. These laser wakefield accelerators promise to dramatically reduces the size of accelerators and revolutionize applications in medicine, industry, and basic sciences.

Speaker Bios

Dr. Félicie Albert

Félicie Albert is an experimental plasma physicist at the National Ignition Facility. She earned a Ph.D. in Physics in 2007 from the Ecole Polytechnique in France, a M.S. in Optics from the University of Central Florida in 2004, and a B.S. in Engineering from the Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Physique de Marseille, France, in 2003. In early 2008, she was hired as a post-doctoral researcher at LLNL and became a permanent member of the scientific staff in 2010. Her areas of interest include the generation and applications of novel sources of electrons, x-rays and gamma-rays through laser-plasma interaction, laser-wakefield acceleration, and Compton scattering. She has conducted many experiments using high-intensity lasers, including NIF, LLNL's Jupiter Laser Facility, OMEGA-EP, Astra-Gemini, and Stanford's Linac Coherent Light Source x-ray free electron laser. She is the recipient of a 2016 U.S. Department of Energy Early Career Research Program Award, the American Physical Society 2017 Katherine E. Weimer Award for outstanding achievements in plasma science research, and the 2017 Edouard Fabre Prize for contributions to the physics of laser-produced plasmas.

Dan Burns

Earth and Space Science and AP Physics Teacher
Los Gatos High School

Dan Burns has been teaching Earth and Space Science and AP Physics at Los Gatos High School since 1992. He is the LGHS science department chair and past president of the Northern California/Nevada American Association of Physics Teachers. He has worked on curriculum development and teacher workshops for the SETI Institute, the USGS, NASA, AAPT, and San Jose State University. He has a BS in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Illinois. Prior to becoming a teacher Dan was a senior research specialist for the Lockheed Missiles and Space Company. Dan is an avid amateur astronomer and astrophotographer and has had several pictures published in astronomy magazines.