Experiments at accelerators have produced many key breakthroughs in particle physics during the past 50 years. Today, as exploration begins of physics at the “terascale”, the machines needed are extremely large, costly and time-consuming to build. As early as 1982 the US Department of Energy (DOE) began a program to develop new ideas for particle acceleration, which has since become extremely active. From the outset it was clear that developing an entirely new concept for acceleration of charged particles would be a multi-disciplinary endeavor, requiring a sustained research effort of several decades to come to fruition (HEPAP 1980). Here I would like to examine just how far one advanced concept – plasma wakefield accelerator - has come after 20 or so years of research, and to prognosticate how it is likely to develop in the next decade.
John D Lawson was one of RAL’s most celebrated Scientists. His research covered many areas of science, well known for his many contributions to accelerator physics and fusion that include Alfvén – Lawson criterion, the Lawson - Woodward theorem and the Lawson criterion. To celebrate science a special RAL Lecture is held every year, this is followed by a reception. This year’s lecture will be presented by one of the pioneers in laser and plasma accelerators Professor Chan Joshi.