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Proceedings Paper

Dense electron-positron plasmas generated by 10PW lasers in the QED-plasma regime
Author(s): C. P. Ridgers; C. S. Brady; J. G. Kirk; T. Blackburn; T. D. Arber; A. R. Bell
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Paper Abstract

Electron-positron plasmas are a prominent feature of the high energy Universe. In the relativistic winds from pulsars and black holes it is thought that non-linear quantum electrodynamics (QED) processes cause electromagnetic energy to cascade into an e-e+ plasma. We show that next-generation 10PW lasers, available in the next few years, will generate such a high density of pairs that they create a micro-laboratory for the first experimental study of a similarly generated e-e+ plasma. In the first simulations of a 10PW laser striking a solid we demonstrate the production of a pure electron-positron plasma of density 1026m-3. This is seven orders of magnitude denser than currently achievable in the laboratory and is comparable to the critical density for commonly used lasers, marking a step change to collective e-e+ plasma behaviour. Furthermore, a new ultraefficient laser-absorption mechanism converts 35% of the laser energy to a burst of gamma-rays of intensity 1022Wcm-2, potentially the most intense gamma-ray source available in the laboratory. This absorption results in a strong feedback between both pair and gamma-ray production and classical plasma physics leading to a new physical regime of QED-plasma physics. In this new regime the standard particle-in-cell (PIC) simulation approach, which has been the dominant kinetic simulation tool in plasma physics for 50 years, is inadequate. We have developed a new approach (QED-PIC) which will provide a powerful new modelling tool essential to the future advancement of the field of high intensity laser-plasma interactions.

Paper Details

Date Published: 7 May 2013
PDF: 6 pages
Proc. SPIE 8780, High-Power, High-Energy, and High-Intensity Laser Technology; and Research Using Extreme Light: Entering New Frontiers with Petawatt-Class Lasers, 87801J (7 May 2013); doi: 10.1117/12.2016378
Show Author Affiliations
C. P. Ridgers, The Univ. of York (United Kingdom)
C. S. Brady, The Univ. of Warwick (United Kingdom)
J. G. Kirk, Max-Planck-Institut für Kernphysik (Germany)
T. Blackburn, Univ. of Oxford (United Kingdom)
T. D. Arber, The Univ. of Warwick (United Kingdom)
A. R. Bell, Univ. of Oxford (United Kingdom)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 8780:
High-Power, High-Energy, and High-Intensity Laser Technology; and Research Using Extreme Light: Entering New Frontiers with Petawatt-Class Lasers
Georg Korn; Luis Oliveira Silva; Joachim Hein, Editor(s)

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