ELI - Extreme Light Infrastructure - Ultra High Power Lasers

Physics Buzz: Lasers reaching their limit

Somebody is going to have to break the news to Darth Vader. His Death Star's planet destroying potential is going to be way behind schedule. Research scheduled to be published in an upcoming issue of the journal Physical Review Letters shows that lasers are already close to reaching their maximum intensity and that the next generation of lasers currently being developed might be able to reach that limit.

Coming Generation of Lasers May Be the Most Powerful Lasers That Will Ever Lase

The theoretical energy ceiling for lasers is approaching

Construction Worker in Laser Target Chamber at National Ignition Facility Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

The most powerful lasers now being built, such as the forthcoming Extreme Light Infrastructure (ELI) project underway in Europe, may approach the physical ceiling of laser intensity -- they may turn out to be the most powerful lasers that ever can be built, says a new article on the PhysicsBuzz blog.

That finite limit on how intense a laser can get is hypothesized to exist because, at sufficiently high energies, matter can be created out of light.

Extreme Light Infrastructure in a few words

A european facility opening new avenues to reveal the secrets of matter on ultra-short timescales

The first infrastructure worldwide dedicated to :

  • Investigation of laser-matter interactions in the unexplored ultra-relativistic regime.
  • Development of unprecedented intense ultra-short particle and radiation sources for fundamental and applied sciences.
“Physicists are planning lasers powerful enough to rip apart the fabric of space and time”
Nature, 446 (2007)

Exotic Physics and Theory

Ultra-high fields of high-power, short-pulse lasers pose very important possibilities for fundamental physics. The main goal of this Research Activity is to explore both theoretically and experimentally the ultra-relativistic (above 1023 W/cm2) regime of laser-matter interaction, called Exotic physics.

[...] In essence, ultra-relativistic intensities could unify nuclear physics, high-energy physics, astrophysics and cosmology.

Apart from these truly exotic research fields, other nonlinear quantum electrodynamics effects could be accessed at slightly modest fields. The ELI community is eager to study such phenomena which consist in converting photon energy directly into creation of electrons and positrons. [...]

Some of the particular QED phenomena that will be studied at ELI are:

  1. Electron-positron plasmas
  2. Vacuum four-wave mixing
  3. Vacuum polarisation
  4. Vacuum birefringence
  5. Unruh radiation
  6. QED cascades: Inverse Compton Scattering
  7. Quark-gluon plasmas

Physics Buzz: Lasers reaching their limit
Coming Generation of Lasers May Be the Most Powerful Lasers That Will Ever Lase | Popular Science
ELI : European Project > Extreme Light Infrastructure
Exotic Physics and Theory

LASERLAB Europe Transnational Access Programme
ELI project > Extreme Light Infrastructure
ELISAC report
The Astronomist: Limits on Lasers