X-GoLP undergraduate research placements 2020


Estágios X-GoLP 2020

  1. Description
  2. FAQs
  3. List of projects

1. Description

X-GoLP is the experimental team of Grupo de Lasers e Plasmas, IPFN, a vibrant research group in high intensity laser-plasma interaction established more than 25 years ago.

X-GoLP members develop R&D primarily in high power lasers, laser plasma physics, secondary sources, optical physics and their applications. The team operates two local high power laser laboratories – L2I and VOXEL – and participates every year in several experiments across world-level laser facilities in Europe and the US. Its members collaborate with some of the leading ultraintense laser facilities, opening opportunities for exciting international careers in research.

What is the idea?

We are now inviting IST students to join our team through the 2020 Call for Junior Research Placements (Estágios de Introdução à Investigação) from March – September 2020. The placement will consist of a small-scale project to be developed in approximately 6 months. These projects are integral parts of our ongoing research lines, so you will join ongoing research work. For a detailed list of project proposals, check the table below.

Who can apply?

If you are a 3rd / 4th year IST student of Physics, Biological, Electrical and Mechanical Engineering, you are a potential candidate. Applications from other engineering areas are also welcome, contact us for details.

Important dates

Interested candidates should submit applications until the end of February 2020. Applications will be evaluated during the first week of March, with interviews taking place in the second week.

How can I apply?

Send us an email to  with a motivation letter and a short CV. You are also encouraged to meet us before applying.

Questions / for more information

Gonçalo Figueira (goncalo.figueira@tecnico.ulisboa.pt)


2. FAQs

How much time am I expected to dedicate to the placement work?

About four hours per week, depending on your availability. Your academic success is important to us, so you should only consider applying to the placement if you can accommodate this time in your weekly schedule.

What kind of work will I be doing?

You are expected to engage in experimental work, so first you will undergo practical training in lasers and laser safety. We will discuss a research project with you and assign you a Supervisor and a Research Buddy to help you get started. Your work will likely involve a small project, with defined goals and tasks, which will give provide you with practical training in a research topic.

Are there fellowships (€€) available?

Yes, for a duration of 3 months, after the 3rd month, depending on the demonstrated performance. But let’s be fair about this: we are looking for people who are truly motivated by the opportunity to become involved in a research group, are skilled working in a lab environment and would love to get their hands in state-of-the-art equipment. We want to help those people flourish and build a career while working with us, and we will invest our time and resources in it. We are not looking to exchange “small money” for “student manpower”.

What happens after the six months?

We’ll discuss how the placement went and, if the interest is mutual, we can upgrade it.

Why is there an interview?

Because it’s important for us to talk, get to know each other and think of a potential project. This will also be your chance to ask us anything you need to know about the placement.

I’m not a student of the engineering areas listed so… can I apply?

Yes. A lot of different skills are fundamental for experimental research. We welcome applications from students in other engineering areas, and the best approach is to send us an email stating why you believe you are a suitable candidate.

I read the list of proposed topics and maybe I would like to work on something different, is this possible?

Yes indeed. If are skilled and interested in a different area we can discuss and define a project that is mutually relevant.

This sounds great! Just one more question, is this the first time that you are creating this research placements?

Actually our first edition took place in 1998 and we have had more than a dozen after that, so we have a bit of experience in training people…


3. List of projects

For supervisor contacts: please see page Team

Title Coherent radiation at ultra-short wavelengths
Supervisor Marta Fajardo
Summary Water window (2-4 nm) is a spectral region for which a natural contrast between water and carbon allows imaging of cells with unprecedented resolution. At the VOXEL lab we have produced coherent radiation down to 17 nm. With optimised laser-gas interaction, we can achieve lower wavelength harmonics reaching the water window.
Title Development of Raman spectrometer applied for cancer diagnosis
Supervisor João M. Dias
Summary The RamSERS project consists in an innovative solution combining the development of a portable Raman spectroscopy instrument with the usage of SERS substrates with high sensitivity for breast cancer biomarkers. Our group, in the consortium, is responsible for the design and test of the optical circuit of the instrument as well of the integration of the acquisition and control electronics (developed by another group at IST). It will include mainly the lab test and characterization of the projected optical circuits but also can include optical design optimization in ray-tracing simulation software, mechanical prototyping or Raman spectroscopy samples testing.
Title High Energy Density Plasmas
Supervisor Marta Fajardo
Summary With ultra-short lasers, we are able to produce plasmas that have densities at or above solid density. Such plasmas are only found in giant planets or supernova, or in inertial confinement fusion. Using an x-ray source synchronised with the plasma creation, we can take snapshots of the plasma  before and while it is exploding, allowing us to better understand the plasma properties of this largely unknown state of matter.
Title Compression of laser pulses using multipass cells
Supervisor Gonçalo Figueira
Summary Recently the technique of Herriott cells for spectral broadening and compression of very short laser pulses has started to be successfully applied at high energy (mJ-level pulses). In this work you will participate in the simulation, design and development of a multipass cell for the compression of pulses in the near infrared. The setup will be installed and tested at the Laboratory for Intense Lasers, IST.
Title Development of a FROG diagnostic at 3 µm
Supervisor Gonçalo Figueira
Summary Frequency-resolved optical gating (FROG) is a pulse measurement technique that produces a spectrogram (frequency vs. time) of the pulse. By applying a reconstruction algorithm, it is possible to obtain the detailed pulse structure in the temporal and spectral domains. In this project, we intend to design and develop a FROG diagnostic for a new ultrashort 3 µm laser. This involves defining the optical components, simulating the interaction of a short, broadband pulse and assembling the setup.
Title Electron acceleration and big data
Supervisor Marta Fajardo
Summary Today, we are limited in our capacity to analyse and make inferences about the data that we produce, and traditional methods for searching for optimum parameters in an experiment from educated guesses are no longer sufficient. In this numerical study, the candidate will apply the techniques of bayesian inference to an electron acceleration problem. We will search for the optimum conditions (which laser energy, duration, gas density, focus..?) to generate the best tabletop accelerator, given the parameter space available at the VOXEL laboratory. This will be done by coupling a Markov Chain Monte Carlo analyser to a “light” particle-in-cell code, zpic, and with co-supervision from Jorge Vieira from the epp team at GoLP.
Title Few-cycle, high energy laser amplifier
Supervisor Gonçalo Figueira
Summary At the Laboratory for Intense Lasers we are developing a laser amplifier based on the technique of optical parametric chirped pulse amplification (OPCPA), which will be capable of generating pulses with energies in the mJ range and durations of a few tens of femtoseconds. This goal requires the development of an efficient amplification stage followed by precise pulse compression. The project will allow the student to gain a deep knowledge of few-cycle pulse dispersion management, pulse diagnostics and laser amplification.
Title Laser-plasma accelerator optimised imaging x-ray source
Supervisor Nelson Lopes
Summary Consists in the development of new gas target that enables the control of  laser-pulse and accelerating plasma structure dynamics in laser-wakefield-accelerator aiming to  increase betatron x-ray yield needed for future biomedical imaging applications. It will include at least the design, construction and testing of relevant target modules and eventually its testing in a high power laser.
Title Miniature accelerators
Supervisor Marta Fajardo
Summary The interaction of ultra-short, low-energy lasers with dense plasmas allows the generation of accelerated particles to MeV range in a few 100’s µm. At the VOXEL lab we are setting up an electron acceleration station, in collaboration with the team of J. Faure at LOA, Ecole Polytechnique.
Title Nonlinear pulse compression
Supervisor Marta Fajardo
Summary The lasers at the VOXEL station are already ultra-short (~40e-15 s), but we would like to make them shorter. The shortest possible pulse has only one wave cycle oscillation in the duration of the pulse. To achieve this, we will use non-linear effects from the propagation of an ultra-hot pulse on a gas, to produce few-cycle radiation.
Title Plenoptic imaging in the XUV
Supervisor Marta Fajardo
Summary Plenoptic or lightfield imaging is a technique that records not only the 2D image of an object but also the direction of the incoming rays. This allows to numerically compute the position of the object in 3D, and is a promising alternative to X-ray tomography. At the VOXEL lab we are producing a plenoptic camera in the XUV to demonstrate 3D microscopy with ultrafast resolution.
Title Precision interferometry density measurement of a plasma for the CERN AWAKE experiment
Supervisor Nelson Lopes
Summary Consists in the development of a new method to produce a long plasma column to extend the acceleration length of the AWAKE experiment in CERN from 10 m to 50 m and beyond paving the way to new plasma based acceleration for HEP. It will include development of a real-time interferometric density measurement to allow its active control.
Title Pulse compression using a hollow core fiber
Supervisor Gonçalo Figueira
Summary A short laser pulse propagation in a gas-filled hollow core fiber will experience nonlinear spectral broadening. This effect has been used in conjunction with a pulse compressor to allow the generation of even shorter pulses. Nowadays a number of different technologies for hollow core fibers are available, allowing an increase in the efficiency and broadening mechanism. In this work, you will evaluate numerically different techniques for spectral broadening of a mJ-level, 300 fs laser pulse. You will then participate in the design and testing of the chosen technique and its implementation in the compression of pulses to the sub 50 fs level. The setup will be installed and tested at the Laboratory for Intense Lasers, IST.
Title Study of different detection systems for HPLC-High Performance Liquid Chromatography
Supervisor João M. Dias
Summary In collaboration with Sarspec© we want to develop a detection system to be applied in HPLC systems based on diode-array using CCD sensor of latest generation for food contamination with high sensitivity, selectivity, spectral range and speed. The application of this type of detectors for HPLC is already unique in the market but other more innovative ideas can be also explored.


Title Vision and optics of the human eye
Supervisor João M. Dias
Summary Following the work develop in the recent years by us with the collaboration of the Dra. Filomena team at Hospital da Luz their exists several clinical and simulation scientific works that has been proceed, like validation of optical correction formulas for Intraocular Optical Lens IOL in the refractive surgery or personalized models for IOL calculation in cataract surgery.