T. Tajima and G. Mourou
International Center for Zetta- Exawatt Science and Technology
(1) Scope of Highest Intensity Lasers
The laser aspires to be the next possible paradigm in Fundamental / Particle Physics. By its coherence, monochromaticity and field magnitude, it has been the lynchpin of novel spectroscopic methods of investigation that deepened our understanding of the atomic structure. However, it was inefficient to probe the subsequent strata formed by the nucleus, the nucleon or the vacuum. Neither the laser photon energy nor its electric field have been large enough to conceive decisive experiments beyond the atomic level.
To reach the level where relevant nuclear and/or high energy physics investigations could be undertaken, large-scale laser infrastructures capable to deliver intensity in the ultra relativistic regime have been recently conceived based on the original concept introduced in 2002 (Tajima and Mourou)
The first embodiment is ELI. It was launched under the aegis of the European Union community and built in Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania. It will yield the highest peak power and laser focused intensity. With its peak power of 100 PW, it represents the largest planned civilian laser project in the world. This gargantuan power will be obtained by delivering few kJ in 10 fs. Focusing this power over a micrometer spot size will yield intensities in the 1025 W/cm2 range, well into the ultrarelativistic regime. This extremely high peak intensity will correspond to the highest electric field, but also according to the pulse intensity-duration conjecture (Mourou and Tajima 2011) to the shortest pulse of high-energy particles and radiations, in the attosecond-zeptosecond regime.
(2) Going beyond ELI is IZEST
With ELI, the particle energy, radiation and field produced would reach the entry point for relevant Nuclear Physics, High Energy Physics or Vacuum Physics with our high intensity lasers.
The second initiative is promulgated by the International center on Zetta-Exawatt Science and Technology (IZEST) which was opened last year. It endeavors at the generation of exawatt-zettawat pulses produced by the delivery of greater than 10kJ in less than 10fs. It relies on already built large scale fusion lasers like the LMJ or NIF. To get around the grating damage threshold conundrum, a novel compression technique known as C3 (Cascaded Compression Conversion) was conceived (Mourou et al., 2012). It relies on the astute combination of the three compression techniques, CPA, OPCPA and Backward Raman Amplification(BRA). Based on plasma, C3 exhibits a much superior damage threshold (103-4 ) than CPA or OPCPA alone. It could potentially compress greater than 100kJ to the femtosecond regime paving the way to the exawatt-zettawatt regime and laser based particle physics.