Berkeley Lab

BELLA People: Eric Esarey

Eric Esarey
Director, BELLA Center
1 Cyclotron Road, MS 71-259
Berkeley CA 94720
telephone: 510-486-5925

Ph.D., Plasma Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1986

B.S., Nuclear Engineering, University of Michigan, 1981

Eric Esarey, who joined LBNL in 1998, is Director of the Berkeley Lab Laser Accelerator Center (BELLA). He received the Ph.D. in plasma physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1986 and the B.S. degree in nuclear engineering from the University of Michigan in 1981. He then spent 10 years as a research physicist in the Plasma Physics Division of the Naval Research Laboratory before being recruited to Berkeley Lab as one of the founders of what is now BELLA Center.

He has published over 220 refereed journal articles (which have more than 18,000 citations and an h-index of 67) on intense laser interactions with electron beams and plasmas, advanced acceleration concepts, novel radiation sources, and related fields. These papers articles include 37 Physical Review Letters, four Nature articles, and a review article published in Reviews of Modern Physics. He is a recipient of the 2018 Advanced Accelerator Concepts Prize and the 2010 John Dawson Award for Excellence in Plasma Physics Research from the American Physical Society, has twice received the Alan Berman Research Publication Award of the Naval Research Laboratory,and holds two patents. He has served on numerous committees, including the Maxwell Prize Committee of the Division of Plasma Physics of the APS and the Fellowship Committee of the Division of the Physics of Beams of the APS. He was elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society in 1996.

Eric is chair of the upcoming 2020 Advanced Accelerator Concepts Workshop (AAC2020).

Professional experience

2019-present: Director, Berkeley Lab Laser Accelerator (BELLA) Center, LBNL

2014-2019: Senior Science Advisor, Accelerator Technology and Applied Physics Division, LBNL

2014-2019: Deputy Director, BELLA Center, LBNL

2004-2010: Adjunct Professor, Department of Physics, University of Nevada, Reno

2003-2014: Senior Staff Scientist, LOASIS Program, LBNL

2000-2014: Deputy Leader, LOASIS Group, Center for Beam Physics, LBNL

1998-2003: Staff Physicist, Center for Beam Physics, LBNL

1988-1998: Research Physicist, Plasma Physics Division, Naval Research Laboratory

1986-1988: Postdoctoral Researcher, MIT and Berkeley Research Associates


  • 2018: Advanced Accelerator Concepts Prize
    “For his pioneering theoretical research in the physics of laser-plasma accelerators”

  • 2010: APS John M. Dawson Award for Excellence in Plasma Physics Research
    “For experiments and theory leading to the demonstration of high-quality electron beams from laser-plasma accelerators.”
  • 2007: Outstanding Performance Award, LBNL.
  • 2005: Outstanding Performance Award, LBNL.
  • 1997: Alan Berman Research Publication Award, Naval Research Laboratory.
  • 1996: Fellow of the American Physical Society
    “In recognition of his seminal scientific contributions to the physics of intense laser-plasma interaction”
  • 1992: Alan Berman Research Publication Award, Naval Research Laboratory.

Selected publications

Esarey, E., C.B. Schroeder, and W.P. Leemans, “Physics of laser-driven plasma-based electron accelerators,” Reviews of Modern Physics 81, 1229 (2009).

Leemans, W.P., and E. Esarey, “Laser-driven plasma-wave electron accelerators,” Physics Today 62 (2009), pp. 44-49.

W.P. Leemans, B. Nagler, A.J. Gonsalves, Cs. Toth, K. Nakamura,3, C.G.R. Geddes, E. Esarey, C.B. Schroeder, and S.M. Hooker, “GeV electron beams from a centimetre-scale accelerator,” Nature Physics 2, pp. 696-699 (2006); LBNL-60105.

C.G.R. Geddes, Cs. Toth, J. van Tilborg, E. Esarey, C.B. Schroeder, D. Bruhwiler, C. Nieter, J. Cary, W.P. Leemans,”High-quality electron beams from a laser wakefield accelerator using plasma-channel guiding,” Nature 431 (2004), pp. 538-541; LBNL-55732.

Esarey, E., P. Sprangle, J. Krall, and A. Ting, “Overview of Plasma-Based Accelerator Concepts” (invited review), IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science PS-24 (1996), pp. 252-288.