ORC Seminar Series

"High intensity laser physics: recent results and developments at the Central Laser Facility, UK"

Speaker: Mike Dunne

Date: Wednesday 23 March 2007

Abstract: The UK's Central Laser Facility provides a wide array of high power and high sensitivity lasers for a science program that stretches from atomic and plasma physics to medical diagnostics, biochemistry and environmental science.

This talk will concentrate on recent developments in the high power and ultrashort pulse areas.

The Vulcan glass laser is currently the world's most powerful laser, delivering 1 Petawatt (10^15 Watts) with a focused intensity of 10^21 W/cm2. This has driven research into fusion energy, laboratory astrophysics and miniaturised particle accelerators. Later this year, the Astra-Gemini Ti:Sapphire laser will be commissioned, delivering 1 Petawatt in two beams every 20 seconds. This represents a factor 400 increase in shot rate, using focusing optics which will provide a factor 10 increase in focused intensity above that achieved by Vulcan. Results and recent progress on these facilities will be described.

On the ultrafast laser programme, we have recently started a new project, Artemis, in collaboration with the Diamond synchrotron light source and the UK attosecond academic community. This project will deliver synchronised infra-red and XUV pulses of sub-10fs duration and a tuneable OPA system to three synchrotron-style end-stations for atomic/molecular physics, surface science and material science.

Finally, the talk will describe plans for the development of a laser fusion facility in Europe called HiPER. Recently accepted onto the European roadmap for future science infrastructures, this project plans to explore the route to fusion energy production via the "fast ignition" approach.

Copyright University of Southampton 2006