A father of the ELI project Gerard Mourou visits Prague

Prof. Gerard Mourou, the coordinator of the ELI project preparatory phase, visited Prague from the 24th to the 26th of March. On this occasion, he presented a lecture entitled Extreme Light: Bridging Optics and Fundamental High Energy Physics, The first steps towards Zeptosecond and Zettawatt Science in the Academy of Sciences. The lecture was organized for professional public under the auspices of the President of the Academy of Sciences Prof. Jiří Drahoš. Prof. Mourou also came to view progress in the construction of the ELI Beamlines facility. ELI will ultimately be operational in three pillars with facilities located in Hungary and Romania along with ELI Beamlines in the Czech Republic.

Gérard Mourou is Professor Haut College at the Ecole Polytechnique. He is also the Director of IZEST (International Zettawatt Exawatt Science and Technology). Most of his scientific career was spent in the USA at the University of Rochester, New York and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He has received numerous honours including the C.H. Townes award from the OSA. He is a Chevalier de la Legion d’ Honneur. Gérard Mourou is a pioneer in the ultrafast laser field. He is best known as is the co-inventor of the technique for Chirped Pulse Amplification (CPA) used in all intense and ultraintense lasers. As such he is considered as the father of the Extreme Light Field. The CPA invention led him to become the co-inventor of the femtosecond ophthalmic surgery used on one million patients a year.

Professor Mourou belongs to the currently outstanding scientists – physicists and his work is specialized in the technology of ultrashort laser pulses and their applications. In the scientific world he is considered to be a visionary in the use of lasers of top-class power in orders of zetawatts (1021W).”I appreciate very much that I can welcome here in the Czech Republic such a world-class scientist, which Gerard Mourou undoubtedly is. His presence confirms the important role that the Czech science and research play in a global scale, “said Prof. Jan Řídký, the director of the Institute of Physics.

Prof. Mourou, as the main propagator of the European project ELI (Extreme Light Infrastructure), was also of course interested in the ELI Beamlines centre and in the development of its laser system. He visited the construction site in Dolní Břežany. He said: “You have done a tremendous job and I am very proud that the idea of the most powerful laser centre is coming true soon.” He would bring great insight to further development of the project and he has been approached to lead a group of experts to prepare a proposal to upgrade the research facility ELI after 2020.

Extreme Light Infrastructure (ELI) is one of the 35 large-scale European projects identified on the latest ESFRI roadmap. The main objectives of the ELI Project included the construction of a modern, cutting-edge laser facility and realization of many research and application projects involving interaction of light with matter at intensities that are 100 to 1,000 times greater than the values achieved at present. ELI will be delivering ultrashort laser pulses lasting typically a few femtoseconds (10-15 fs) and its peak output will approximate 10 PW. The ELI infrastructure will be composed of three pillars under one European umbrella. The ELI Beamlines in Dolní Břežany in Central Bohemian Region of the Czech Republic, the ELI Attosecond facility in Szeged, Hungary and the ELI Nuclear Physics in Magurele in Romania.