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Toshiki Tajima and Gérard Mourou 

The recent possibility to explore fundamental and high-energy physics with high intensity lasers opens up an unprecedented frontier of contemporary physics. The European scientific community working on the Extreme Light Infrastructure (ELI) [1] has built over the past 5 years a compelling scientific case [2] based on the original vision toward Exa- and Zettawatt lasers and their science scope [3], showing that the ultra intense field could be of the upmost relevance to fundamental physics and its applications. More recently the unification of the high intensity and high energy density demonstrated through the Intensity-Pulse Duration conjecture by G. Mourou and T. Tajima [4] has unified the ultra high peak power in the exawatt-zettawatt and ultra short pulses in the yocto-zeptosecond regimes. Their work gives a new wind to large-scale laser infrastructure missions and reaffirms their potential relevance to fundamental physics.

The intense laser technology can drive the quest for fundamental physics research in a novel fashion. To accomplish this, we have proposed the creation of a novel international research laboratory; the International Center for Zetta- and Exawatt Science and Technology (IZEST) with the mission to study the possibility to produce intensities even higher than the ones predicted for ELI (0.2 Exawatt). In the time domain, extremely short pulses with duration in atto-zeptosecond associated with the large fields will be produced to reach these intensities. IZEST will be composed of the world’s top scientists in laser, plasma physics, nuclear physics, high energy physics, general relativity, and the like.  We now see a concrete opportunity to carry out the first attempts at 100 GeV (and possibly TeV) laser wakefield acceleration, the search for novel fields (such as Dark Matter and Dark Energy) by copious laser photons, and acceleration of ions over cm toward TeV. Coordinated through IZEST, their objectives will be to form a team who can engage their forces toward the world highest intensity lasers. Their objective will also be to vet the scientific potential of exawatt laser and provide the scientific community and funding agencies solid scientific and engineering directions and recommendations.

ELI is built out of a conventional technology based on CPA (Chirped Pulse Amplification) and OPCPA (Optical Parametric Chirped Pulse Amplification).  Due to the large grating size and cost it will be difficult to go beyond the 200 PW level. However, IZEST will explore at low repetition rates new technologies and architectures that can be further implemented on new infrastructures like XCELS (Exawatt Ceneter for Extreme Light Science) planned in Russia. A new amplification method, weaving the three basic compression techniques, Chirped Pulse Amplification (CPA), Optical Parametric Chirped Pulse Amplification (OPCPA) and Plasma Compression by Backward Raman Amplification (BRA)[5] in plasma is explored. It is called C3 for Cascaded Conversion Compression[6]. It has the capability to compress with good efficiency kilojoule to megajoule, nanosecond laser pulses into femtosecond pulses, to produce exawatt-and-beyond peak power. The very small beam size, i.e. few centimeters, along with the low laser repetition rate laser system will make possible the use of inexpensive, precision, disposable optics. The resulting intensity will approach the Schwinger value, thus opening up new possibilities in fundamental physics.
Scientific Rationale for IZEST: Laser-Based Particle Physics Paradigm (LP3)

Fundamental and high energy physics has been mainly driven by the high-energy colliding particle beam paradigm so far. Today the possibility to amplify laser to extreme energy and peak power offers, in addition to possibly more compact and cheaper ways to help HEP, a suite of complementary new alternatives underpinned by single shot, large field laser pulse, that together we could call Laser-Based  Particle Physics. The main mission of IZEST is to muster the scientific community behind this new concept. As an example, we project to use the laser field to probe the nonlinearity of vacuum such as Heisenberg-Euler QED, and to search for dark matter and dark energy, as mentioned earlier. We envision that there is a wealth of fundamental physics issues worth pursuing without large luminosity (high repetition rate) of a collider. Seeking the non-collider paradigm substantially shortens our time-line; we further accelerate the latter by adopting the existing large energy laser LIL or PETAL of CEA. The advancement of intense short-pulsed laser energy by 2-3 orders of magnitude empowers us a tremendous potential of unprecedented discoveries. These include: TeV physics, physics beyond TeV, new light-mass weak-coupling field discovery potential, nonlinear QED and QCD fields, radiation physics in the vicinity of the Schwinger field, and zeptosecond dynamical spectroscopy of vacuum. In addition, we want to take advantage of the ultrashort pulses produced in the femto, atto, and zeptosecond timescale to perform a new type of particle/radiation precision metrology. Finally, the TeV particles that can be produced on demand could offer a new tool to bridge to observations of TeV-PeV astrophysics.  
[1]  eli-laser.eu/
[2] Tajima, T., Barish, B., Barty, C., Bulanov, S., Chen, P., Feldhaus, J., Hajdu, J., Keitel, C., Kieffer, J., Ko, D., Leemans, W., Normand, D., Palumbo, L., Rzazewski, K., Sergeev, A., Sheng, Z., Takasaki, F., and Teshima, M., Science of Extreme Light Infrastructure, in  AIP Proceedings of LEI Conference 1228 ‘Light at Extreme Intensities---Opportunities and Technological Issues of the Extreme Light Infrastructure’, ed. D. Dumitras (AIP, NY, 2010) p.11.
[3] T. Tajima and G. A. Mourou, ‚Zettawatt-exawatt lasers and their applications in ultrastrong-field physics’, Phys. Rev. ST AB 5, 031301 (2002)
[4] G. A. Mourou and T. Tajima, ‘More intense Shorter Pulse’, Science, 331, 41 (2011)
[5] N. J. Fisch and V. M. Malkin, ‘Generation of ultrahigh intensity laser pulses’, Phys. Plasmas 10, 2056 (2003).
[6] G.A. Mourou,  N.J. Fisch, V.M. Malkin,  Z. Toroker,  E.A. Khazanov, A.M. Sergeev, T. Tajima, B. Le Garrec, ‘Exawatt-Zettawatt pulse generation and applications’, Opt. Comm. 285, 720–724 (2011).

IZEST in a nutschell