High intensity lasers

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High intensity lasers

These laser systems deliver high energy light pulses in a very short time (a few femtoseconds). Their operating principle is based on the amplification of a time-drifting frequency or Chirped Pulse Amplification (CPA) technique. The peak power achieved by these laser pulses ranges from a few TeraWatts to 10 PetaWatts for the most powerful facilities.

These facilities provide access to unprecedented regimes of light-matter interaction. This is sometimes referred to as relativistic optics because the quiver velocity of electrons within the laser field can reach a significant fraction of the speed of light. Let us notice a few research fields:

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  • Laser wakefield electron acceleration
  • Ion beam production
  • Source incoherent radiation (K-alpha x-rays, betatron, Compton)
  • Source of coherent and ultrashort pulses (femtoseconde even attosecond) within the Extreme ultraviolet-range () by high-order harmonics generation or relativistic mirrors
  • Atomic physics in strong field and in out-of equilibrium plasmas (plasma-based laser amplificators)
  • Pump-probe experiments with high spac and time resolution.
  • Filamentation in air, guiding artificial and natural electric discharges (lightning)
  • Use of nonlinear optical effects of a plasma to design laser chain elements.
  • Quantum electrodynamics (QED) in strong field (vacuum polarization, electron-positron pair generation…)

In Paris-Saclay area

The Paris-Saclay environment features a large number of high power lasers and a very active research community:

In addition, some facilities can generate secondary sources of radiation (incoherent and coherent) or particles (electrons, protons, ions) that can be used for scientific experiments:

In France

A few laboratories implement high power laser platforms dedicated to fundamental research, medical applications and material/surface processing

  • LP3 in Marseille
  • CELIA in Bordeaux
  • laser line PETAL close to the laser megajoule facility

In Europe

Many laboratories in europe are equiped with high intensity lasers, andit  is not possible to give an exhaustive list. However, the european Union playes an important role in the structuration of this field.

  1. Laserlab Europe is a network of laser laboratories, performing join research activities, providing beam time access to worlwide researchers on the high power lasers of the network, and supporting students and young researchers.
  2. The Extreme Light Infrastructure (ELI) is a european consortium operating three large scale laser facilities:
  • ELI-Beamline in Czeck republic (laser driven sources of photons and particles for users)
  • ELI-ALPS in Hungary, dedicated to attosecond physics.
  • ELI-NP in Romania, for Nuclear Physics with lasers and interaction at extremely high intensity (2x10PW.


Some examples

  • The BELLA laser in Berkeley (USA) where laser wake field acceleration of electrons up to 10GeV has been demonstrated.
  • The MEC endstation of the  LCLS x-ray free electron laser:This laser is located on one of the experimental endstation of the LCLS large scale facility. The combination of both sources enables the production and probing of matter under extreme condition.