Daniel Woodbury

  • Program Year: 2
  • Academic Institution: University of Maryland, College Park
  • Field of Study: Physics
  • Academic Advisor: Howard Milchberg
  • Practicum(s):
    Sandia National Laboratories, New Mexico (2018)
  • Degree(s):
    B.S. Physics, Brigham Young University, 2015

Summary of Research

My research focuses on the study of intense laser-plasma interactions, and especially the development of laser-plasma accelerators. The interaction of an intense femtosecond laser pulse with plasma can generate TeV/m accelerating gradients for electrons and ions, orders of magnitude larger than those that conventional RF accelerators can support. Laser-plasma accelerators utilizing these enormous fields offer an opportunity to make future accelerators more compact and accessible to researchers in small, university-scale labs.

Specifically, I am interested in the rich field of near-critical density laser-plasma interaction. Many current acceleration schemes rely on exciting plasma oscillations in low density plasma or by impulsively heating thin solid density targets. In the intermediate density regime where natural plasma oscillations are near the same frequency as the incident laser, resonance leads to novel phenomena, like relativistic self-focusing of the laser pulse at relatively low peak powers or ion acceleration by expansion of strong quasi-static magnetic fields left in the laser’s wake. My lab is investigating this regime by developing thin, high density gas jets and by utilizing novel femtosecond mid-IR lasers.

The development of a compact source of bright, intense, and short pulses of charged particle radiation also provides unique imaging capabilities and applications. Relativistic electrons can produce hard x-rays and gamma rays through Bremsstrahlung, betatron oscillations or Compton scattering. These hard x-rays can be used to probe dense plasma or ultrafast processes. My research explores the application of laser-plasma accelerators in these roles, while also studying the fundamental physics which make these accelerators possible.


D. Woodbury, L. Feder, V. Shumakova, C. Gollner, R. Schwartz, F. Salehi, B. Miao, A. Korolov, A. Pugzlys, A. Baltuska, and H. M. Milchberg, "Laser wakefield acceleration with mid-IR laser pulses," arxiv preprint, Jan 17, 2018.

F. Salehi, A. .J Goers, G. A. Hine, L. Feder, D. Kuk, B. Miao, D. Woodbury, K. Y. Kim, and H. M. Milchberg, "MeV electron acceleration at 1 kHz with < 10mJ laser pulses," Optics Letters 42, 215 (2017).

D. Woodbury, "Construction of a Compact Two-Dimensional Magneto-Optical Trap for a Cold Calcium Beam," BYU Undergraduate Thesis, April 2015

Conference Presentations
"Laser wakefield acceleration with mid-IR laser pulses," D. Woodbury, L. Feder, V. Shumakova, C. Gollner, B. Miao, R. Schwartz, A. Baltuska, A. Pugzlys, H. M. Milchberg. OSA Frontiers in Optics, Washington, D. C., September 2017.

"Single-shot measurements of laser-induced avalanche breakdown demonstrating spatial and temporal control by an external source," D. Woodbury, J. K. Wahlstrand, A. J. Goers, L. Feder, B. Miao, G. A. Hine, F. Salehi, and H. M. Milchberg. APS Division of Plasma Physics Meeting, San Jose, California, October 2016.

"Single-shot measurements of laser-induced avalanche breakdown seeded by an external source," D. Woodbury, J. K. Wahlstrand, and H. M. Milchberg. DTRA Basic Research Technical Review, Springfield, Virginia, July 2016

"Window decompression in laser-heated MagLIF targets," D. Woodbury, K. Peterson, and A. Sefkow. APS Division of Plasma Physics Meeting, Savannah, Georgia, November 2015

"Development of a GPU Accelerated 3-D Full-Wave Code for Electromagnetic Wave Propagation in a Cold Plasma," D. Woodbury, S. Kubota, and I. Johnson. Presentation at the APS Division of Plasma Physics (DPP) Meeting, New Orleans, October 28, 2014

"Dual Species Magneto Optical Trap for the Study of Ultracold Plasma," D. Woodbury, A. Erikson, and S. Bergeson. Presentation at the APS 4 Corners Section Meeting, Utah Valley University, Oct 18, 2014


DOE NNSA Stewardship Science Graduate Fellowship, 2016-2020

Honorable Mention, NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program, April 2016

Graduate School Dean's Fellowship, University of Maryland-College Park, August 2015

Graduated Summa Cum Laude, Physics, Brigham Young University, April 2015

Outstanding Undergraduate Presenter, 4 Corners Section Meeting APS, October 2014

ORCA (Office of Research and Creative Activities) Research Grant, Brigham Young University, January 2014

Dean's List, Brigham Young University, 2009-10, 2012-15

National Merit Scholarship Recipient, 2009-2015