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Proceedings Paper

Nature of the strong field capabilities of lasers
Author(s): H. R. Reiss
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Paper Abstract

Research with lasers of extremely high intensity has been proposed in terms of tunneling and the “Schwinger Limit”, which refers to breakdown of the vacuum into electron-positron pairs caused by a static or quasistatic electric field. The difficulty is that lasers produce transverse fields, wherein the electric and magnetic fields form a mutually orthogonal triad with the direction of propagation. Tunneling, including the Schwinger Limit, relates to longitudinal fields, in which the direction of the electric field vector is the only preferred direction. Transverse fields propagate indefinitely without inputs from source or current distributions. By contrast, longitudinal fields require continuing contributions from external source or current distributions. Failure to distinguish between longitudinal and transverse fields is consequential in that some proposed applications of very high intensity lasers pertain only to tunneling processes, but not to laser fields. A related difficulty is the flawed notion that tunneling constitutes a low-frequency limit of laser-induced processes. A counter-indication is that the ponderomotive potential of a charged particle in a laser field is proportional to the inverse square of the field frequency. Thus there is no possible approach to a zero-frequency laser field. The Göppert-Mayer gauge transformation of atomic physics makes possible a limited correspondence between transverse and longitudinal fields. The correspondence fails at both high and, most importantly, at low field frequencies. Vacuum pair production does not require the Schwinger Limit, but can be achieved at much lower intensities.

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, 87801K (7 May 2013); doi: 10.1117/12.2017535
Show Author Affiliations
H. R. Reiss, Max Born Institute (Germany)
American Univ. (United States)


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; Joachim Hein; Luis Oliveira Silva, Editor(s)

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