Particle accelerators so far have relied on electric fields generated by radio waves to accelerate electrons and other particles close to the speed of light. Such machines however have an upper limit of tens of MeV per meter of beam line.
A developing technology is the generation of a wakefield in a plasma through either a laser or a beam of charged particles. The susbequent electric field can resonantly accelerates the particles to tens of thousands of MeV per meter of beam line, offering potentially staggering performance gains over existing technology.
In this project the principles and design of a plasma wakefield accelerator will be reviewed, and the opportunities for a low-cost wakefield accelerator explored.