A 10 PW laser pulse (L4f ELI-laser), when focused on a diffraction-limited spot with a FWHM of 1 micron, would result in an intensity of 1024 W/cm2. This light intensity is unprecedented in the history of laser-plasma/matter interaction. At these high intensities new physics effects such as the following can be studied:

  • Production of gamma-ray flashes
  • Generation of electron-positron pairs
  • Radiation-friction force
  • Relativistic flying mirror
  • Unruh physics
  • Vacuum birefringence.

E3 will accommodate the first 10 PW lasers worldwide and initiate research for "exotic" physics phenomena using extreme intensities. Ultra high intensity (UHI) phenomena are also important for laboratory astrophysics (→ html link) phenomena, which are sometimes called laser cosmology. Ultrahigh intensity lasers might help to shed light on such phenomena as cosmic acceleration (ultrahigh energy cosmic rays) and quantum gravity (Hawking radiation). Achieving the focusing of a 10 PW laser pulse will require the use of sophisticated ellipsoidal plasma mirror setups. Over the long term, plasma optics (→ html link) might also provide a way to increase laser intensities even further towards the Schwinger limit. UHI laser-plasma physics will also require a way to diagnose the predicted intensities in a reliably. This is a challenging task in itself but is an essential part of UHI interaction.

REFERENCES:
  1. G. Mourou et al. Optics in the relativistic regime, Rev. Mod. Phys. 78, 309 (2006). 
  2. M. Marklund et al. Nonlinear collective effects in photon-photon and photon-plasma interactions, Rev. Mod. Phys. 78, 591 (2006). 
  3. A. Di Piazza et al. Extremely high-intensity laser interactions with fundamental quantum systems, Rev. Mod. Phys. 84, 1177 (2012). 
  4. Y.I. Salamin et al. Relativistic high-power laser-matter interactions, Phys. Rep. 427, 41 (2006).

Stefan WEBER, stefan.weber@eli-beams.eu