Berkeley Lab

Jeroen van Tilborg Appointed as BELLA Center’s Deputy Director for Experiments

Jeroen van Tilborg

Jeroen van Tilborg

Staff scientist Jeroen van Tilborg has been appointed Deputy Director for Experiments in the Berkeley Lab Laser Accelerator (BELLA) Center.

He succeeds Cameron Geddes, who is now Director of the Accelerator Technology & Applied Physics Division.

Jeroen’s new position comes after his service as the BELLA Center’s Associate Deputy Director for Experiments, coordinating operation and enhancement of the Center’s ever diversifying and expanding facilities. He led experiments on the BELLA hundred-terawatt laser and participated in experiments on all other BELLA laser facilities, including the BELLA petawatt laser. He has mentored students and early career staff members, including postdoctoral scholar Sam Barber, who was recently promoted to Research Scientist.

“Jeroen is an outstanding scientist with superb organizational skills,” says Eric Esarey, Director of the BELLA Center. “His broad base of knowledge in lasers, beams, and plasma physics makes him ideally suited to oversee the wide range of experimental activities within the Center.”

In his own research, Jeroen was awarded a US Department of Energy Early Career Research Program (ECRP) grant, funded through the Office of Basic Energy Science — an extremely competitive program (about 15% of applicants are funded). He also received a grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and has been simultaneously heading these efforts, successfully building a new hundred-terawatt laser and accelerator facility. This facility combines state-of-art capabilities to manipulate and diagnose all aspects of a laser-plasma accelerator (LPA): the laser pulses, the plasma target, the electron beam production, transport, and phase-space manipulation, and finally the photon source and its characterization. His push to combine stabilization and precision control concepts for the laser-plasma interaction represents an integrated approach to enabling high-profile applications of LPAs.

“My goal is to make sure that everyone’s talent is utilized in the best way, continuing the cross-team collaboration, always with a focus on science.”

Jeroen is also a leader in the community-planning processes that build and summarize consensus for scientific program directions. In the ongoing “Snowmass” particle physics community planning exercise, he serves as co-coordinator of Near-Term Applications in the Advanced Accelerator Concepts topical group, and is the liaison between the Advanced Accelerator Concepts and the Community Engagement frontiers. In the American Physical Society’s Division of Plasma Physics community-planning process, he contributed to the Disruptive Technologies topical group.

Sam Barber (left) and Jeroen van Tilborg with plasma mirror

Research scientist Sam Barber (l.) and Jeroen hold the plasma mirror used in an electron-beam diagnostic experiment. The setup enabled measurements of electron-beam energy with range and resolution comparable to what is achieved using the multi-ton dipole magnet located behind them. (Marilyn Sargent/Berkeley Lab)

Jeroen’s research interests include ultra-intense laser physics, laser-plasma accelerators, nonlinear optics, AMOS (atomic, molecular, and optical sciences), undulator and FEL physics, high harmonic generation, high-energy physics, plasma diagnostics, ultrafast phenomena, advanced electron beam transport, and novel radiation sources. The unifying theme of his work has been, as he puts it, “to measure changes that happen very quickly — picoseconds, femtoseconds — that you can study with very fast pulses from high-powered lasers.”

Jeroen is co-author of 47 publications in the refereed literature and lead author of another 15, including two Physical Review Letters, on topics covering nonlinear optics, plasma diagnostics, X-ray phenomena, molecular dynamics, and accelerator physics.

Jeroen’s association with BELLA Center — then known as the Laser Optics and Accelerator Systems Integrated Studies (LOASIS) Program — began with an internship when he was in a bachelor’s/master’s degree program at the Technical University of Eindhoven. Two years later, in 2001, LOASIS leaders Wim Leemans and Eric Esarey suggested that he do his PhD research at LOASIS. There followed a transatlantic program of academic work at Eindhoven and experimental work at Berkeley Lab, culminating in a PhD, cum laude, in applied physics in 2006. The American Physical Society Division Physics of Beams recognized his work through the 2007 Outstanding Doctoral Thesis Research in Beam Physics Award.

After earning his doctorate, Jeroen spent three years as a postdoctoral scientist in Berkeley Lab’s Chemical Sciences Division, performing science based on soft-x-ray beams. This enriching phase and beam-user perspective allowed him to understand and appreciate the quality that the science community expects from advanced particle and light sources. He then joined BELLA Center in 2009.

“The people as well as the projects at the BELLA Center are really diverse,” Jeroen says. “My goal is to make sure that everyone’s talent is utilized in the best way, continuing the cross-team collaboration, always with a focus on science. I’m really excited to be selected to lead these efforts.”

Anthony Gonsalves, Kei Nakamura Appointed as BELLA Center Associate Deputy Directors for Experiments

BELLA Center scientists Anthony Gonsalves and Kei Nakamura have been appointed as Associate Deputy Center Directors for Experiments. They will support Jeroen van Tilborg in his role as Deputy Center Director for Experiments.

Tony Gonsalves

Tony Gonsalves

Tony Gonsalves is a Staff Scientist leading the laser-plasma accelerator experiments in the BELLA Center, including next-generation injection techniques and high-efficiency staging. Tony received his PhD from the University of Oxford in 2006, where he developed plasma based laser waveguides and used them to enhance short wavelength lasing and, working with the BELLA Center’s researchers and lasers, to achieve the first GeV electron beams from a laser-plasma accelerator. Tony then joined the BELLA Center in 2006 as a postdoctoral scholar.

During his 15-year career at the Lab, Tony has developed a number of novel plasma targets and diagnostics and used them for precision control of laser-plasma acceleration. He led the experiments producing record energies from laser-plasma accelerators, including the current world record of 8 GeV achieved using the BELLA petawatt laser. His current focus is on integration of novel high-power laser guiding concepts, giving ATAP an excellent shot at continuing to hold the world record for the energy output of LPAs.

His strong technical and leadership contribution to past projects has positioned him to be science lead on the BELLA Second Beamline, a facility upgrade adding a second high-power laser beamline to the BELLA petawatt laser, thus significantly enhancing the precision, control, and complexity of LPA regimes that can be accessed.

Kei Nakamura

Kei Nakamura

Kei Nakamura is an Applied Physicist and is currently leading the high-field laser experiments in the BELLA Center. He joined the Center in 2003 as an intern, then returned as a PhD student in 2004, completing his PhD from the University of Tokyo in 2008 with a Young Scientist Award from the Particle Accelerator Society of Japan. Following his PhD, he joined Berkeley Lab as a postdoctoral scholar, and was promoted to the rank of Applied Physicist in 2012.

Over his career, Kei has developed a very broad range of expertise, including laser-plasma acceleration, high-field laser-matter interactions, high-power laser operation and diagnostics, and broadband charged-particle transport and detectors.

Kei’s managerial expertise in leading high-profile visitor-based experimental campaigns has enabled him to become science lead on BELLA IP2, a project adding a new intensity-boosted laser delivery system to the BELLA petawatt laser that will support highly-nonlinear laser-matter interaction studies and laser-solid ion acceleration.