Berkeley Lab

The kBELLA Initiative

BELLA Center is pursuing an initiative for a facility to perform research on precision laser-plasma accelerators (LPAs) for future particle colliders and a broad range of applications (from basic science to such uses as medicine and security) relevant to several offices within SC and other agencies. Physically, it constitutes an extension of the BELLA Center facility, including the construction of shielded laboratory space at LBNL and of a high repetition rate (kHz), 3-joule short-pulse laser.

Layout diagram of kBELLA

Engineering pre-conceptual design of the proposed facility in Building 71 (hatched and colored areas), in the context of other BELLA spaces (blue labels). The kBELLA design overlaid on the present facility. Features include the laser front end (Source), amplifiers (Amp.), compressor (Comp.), and LPA. Expansion space allows for development of advanced laser technologies, as well as multiple experiments. (Click for larger version.)

Possible Parameters

Here are some potential parameters (click for a PDF version with live links to the citations).


LPAs require high peak power to drive the plasma wakefields for acceleration. The lasers required for GeV-class LPAs, which permits accurate scaling to collider-relevant stages and enables photon sources, presently operate at the Hz level. Developing GeV laser-plasma accelerators to kHz repetition rates is now critical for two reasons: because a future high energy physics collider and nearer-term societal applications demand this rate, and because air and ground motion at of the order of 100 Hz generate fluctuations that limit the precision of current systems.

Studies on low-energy lasers show that kHz systems with active feedback are therefore required to advance laser-plasma accelerator technology, opening a new era of precision timing and alignment, taking advantage of machine learning methods. Such a system, generating GeV-class LPA beams, will enable the next step in higher performance required for applications of this technology. This is a major milestone on the US plasma accelerator roadmap, and timely execution is critical to retain US leadership within a highly competitive international environment.

Next Steps

A first Virtual Town Hall on Science with kBELLA will be held 1-3 pm Wednesday, July 15, so that the LBNL community can provide their input and vision on the breadth of science that can be done with this facility. Here is the Zoom link.

To Learn More…

•  Summary slide
•  Two-page overview
•  Brightest Light Initiative Workshop Report: The Future of Intense Ultrafast Lasers in the U.S. (March 2019)
•  Report of Workshop on Laser Technology for kBELLA and Beyond (September 2017)