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Final Report Summary - LA3-NET (LAsers for Applications at Accelerators: A Marie Curie Initial Training NETwork)

Many of today’s most advanced research infrastructures rely on the use of particle accelerators. Accelerators also have important medical and commercial applications. In medicine they are used for the provision of radioactive isotopes, x-ray generation and particle beam therapy. Commercial applications include studying and processing materials, waste treatment, lithography and security applications. Lasers will play an important role in the next generation of accelerators enabling advances in the generation of electron and ion beams, the driver for acceleration of particles as an alternative to radio frequency and for advanced beam diagnostics.
The primary aim of LA³NET was to train early stage researcher Fellows within a multidisciplinary network of top academic and research-focused industrial organizations across Europe. Through the project the 19 Fellows have developed expert knowledge in a number of different fields such as engineering, physics, electronics, IT, material sciences and even medical applications based around specific research projects involving laser applications for accelerators. Together with training through network-wide events, secondments and relevant placements for specific skill-building and data collection this has given them a broad skill set that will provide an excellent base for their future careers, be that in academia or the industry sector.
The secondary aim was to establish a sustainable network and generate new knowledge through the research carried out by the Fellows within that network. New links and collaborations have been generated through a number of network events and by working together, particularly between the laser and accelerator communities which are usually distinct. Importantly, the active participation of industrial partners has ensured the application of the knowledge generated. Recently the network has decided to carry on collaboration beyond the EC-funded project duration.
The project progress demonstrated at the mid-term review was judged very positively by the EC reviewers describing the project as an excellent ITN with exceptionally successful Fellow R&D, project communication, coordination and dissemination, as well as real industry involvement. Prof. Carsten Welsch was subsequently asked to speak at the REA Coordinators meeting in Brussels for newly funded ITNs as an exemplar coordinator.
The results from the Fellows’ research projects have already made an impact to the accelerator and laser research communities with around 50 contributions to international laser or accelerator conferences and workshops in addition to widespread dissemination at more regional events and meetings. 14 papers have been published by the Fellows in prestigious peer-review journals with at least several in preparation as results are analysed and doctoral thesis preparation continues. Through reports, presentations and articles the technical milestones and deliverables were all achieved.
In addition to project-based training the network enabled 32 sets of secondments and field work experience to take place with the Fellows working at other organizations to build specific expertise or gather further results towards completion of their core projects. The network-wide technical training was also completed including International Schools on Laser Applications at Accelerators successfully delivered at GANIL and CLPU with all recruited LA³NET Fellows participating. All four topical workshops were also a great success with each focusing on a particular work package and providing a platform for the Fellows to present their work. Complementary Skills Schools were successfully delivered at the University of Liverpool shortly after the majority of the Fellows were recruited and towards the end of the project to equip the Fellows to progress well in their subsequent careers. The skills in project management and team working at an international level were applied as the Fellows took full responsibility for organising an industry-focused careers workshop held in Berlin.
The project has been given a high profile, not least through numerous presentations and four exhibitor stands at relevant international conferences. It was represented at the International Particle Accelerator Conference (IPAC) in 2012, 2013, 2014 & 2015, the Beam Instrumentation Workshop (BIW) 2013, the International Beam Instrumentation Conference (IBIC) 2013 & 2015, Free Electron Laser (FEL) conference 2013, as well as at the 6th International conference on Laser Probing (LAP) in Paris/France where several prizes were awarded to early stage researchers for their contributions to this conference. Poster prizes were also sponsored for LAP15 in Michigan, US. The project also awarded three annual LA³NET Prizes for outstanding work on laser applications by early career researchers with competition from outside of the network. The project is disseminated externally via dedicated website page ( and dynamic Facebook which are regularly updated with relevant news. In the final year Twitter was also adopted for Tweeting news. Thirteen comprehensive newsletters have been issued and distributed to over 600 researchers. A project leaflet has been produced and two glossy A4 brochures have been published showcasing the Fellows, their research projects and the partners involved in the network – the second brochure included research results. Articles have been published throughout the general press from local news reports covering events in newspapers such as the Liverpool Echo and more specialist magazines such as the CERN Courier, Pan European Networks, Physics World, Accelerator News and the Horizon Magazine.
The project has also had substantial outreach impact with all Fellows making individual contributions. In particular, all Fellows have completed visits to local or home-country schools to generate interest in science. Webcasts have also been produced by each Fellow to publicise their specific projects via the web, eg YouTube. The project was well represented at the EuroScience Open Forum with 3 presentations at ESOF 2014 enabled by the coordinator and involving Fellows, management and scientists. Other events and assistance with local open days have been carried out by the Fellows bringing the science to the general public culminating in an outreach symposium attended by 250 people including 150 16-18 year old physics school students: “Lasers and Accelerators for Science and Society” was held in Liverpool’s prestigious waterfront Convention Centre involving the participation of all of the Fellows. The EU Project TEAM from the Cockcroft Institute has also promoted the project through events such as Physics Innovate linking to business. The TEAM also organized and delivered an Administrators’ Training Day in Liverpool aimed at the administrators from across the network to strengthen links and ensure that the reporting process ran smoothly. A LinkedIn group was created from this to share best practice. The innovative approach to complementary skills training developed during LA3NET by the team at Liverpool was described in an article published in the Liverpool University's Learning & Teaching newsletter and at conferences in 2013, 2014 & 2015, as well as in talks made and paper published as part of the Higher Education Authority (HEA) STEM conference held at the University of Birmingham (UK) in 2013. This has generated further interest in the approach and the project and the TEAM delivered a workshop on this for the HEA in February 2014 to share best practice.
The laser and accelerator communities both benefit from the potential to recruit highly trained researches from the project with broad experience of both industry and academia and with the complementary skills required to take best advantage of the technical skills acquired. One Fellow has already taken up a position in industry and other Fellows are continuing their research. One PhD has already been successfully completed and two other submitted and expecting defence soon. Clearly, the career prospects of the Fellows have been greatly improved through both formal and informal training as well as networking. The supportive community spirit of the network and in particular between the Fellows helped this to be achieved with maximum effect.
The network contributes to the European Research Area (ERA) by the establishment of a growing consortium of complementary partners across sectors to work together in the development and application of novel laser applications for accelerators. The required scientific and technological advances are being realized in a joint effort between research centres, universities and industry partners building on core European expertise and know-how in the application of lasers for accelerators. This will help the EU to remain at the forefront of laser and accelerator-based research in the world especially as the network is to continue beyond the duration of the funded project.
The network was internationally praised by the laser and accelerator communities for its manifold benefits. The various events that have been organized by the consortium stimulated discussions about future collaborative research projects. These discussions also showed that there was a continuing and high demand in highly skilled researchers, in particular in the area of ‘novel accelerators’ and hence more training initiatives were urgently needed. These are expected to benefit significantly from the training model developed by LA3NET.

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