FLASH radiotherapy (RT) consists in delivering a therapeutic dose over much shorter times than in conventional treatment protocols.
Recent experiments demonstrated that FLASH-RT can damage tumor cells while significantly reducing radiation toxicity to healthy cells, thus paving the way to a real revolution in medical treatments. The major challenge with FLASH-RT is to understand and optimise the mechanisms behind its benefits, which are still not elucidated.
This requires the development of new particle accelerators that can provide much shorter particle bunches than conventional accelerators to get better insight into the basis of radiation toxicity (down to the femtosecond molecular excitation time scale). These accelerators also need to be much more compact to democratize access to treatments.
In this project, we propose to develop a novel laser-plasma accelerator concept that is a very promising candidate to open this route. The understanding and optimization of the physical processes at the core of this concept require (pre)-exascale 3D plasma kinetic simulations with the WarpX code.
Simulations will be paramount to understand, guide and interpret experiments planned in 2023/2024 at high-power laser facilities in France. Achieving this goal shall enable previously out-of-reach high-impact medical studies aiming at understanding and optimising the FLASH effect.