Research projects

Megatesla magnetic field generation

 

  • Direct laser acceleration in Megatesla magnetic fields. This project examines analytically and using computer simulations a novel regime in which an unprecedented magnetic field, generated in a laser-irradiated solid density target, enhances acceleration of electrons and, as a result, enables emission of energetic photons. Light-matter interactions at ultra-high intensities are the next frontier of the advanced accelerator research with the potential to enable development of novel accelerators and x-ray sources. The prospect of generating copious quantities of energetic photons in laser-target interactions is of particular interest due to its many possible applications, including photo-nuclear spectroscopy, radiation therapy, and radio surgery. The study is also of fundamental relevance to astrophysics, as it can pave the way to creation of matter and antimatter from light, thus providing valuable insights into the inner workings of the universe. The project provides essential student training in accelerator science, plasma physics, and high performance computing.

Magnetized Electron Sheath Acceleration

 

  • Effects of a strong applied magnetic field on relativistic laser-plasma interactions. Relatively little is currently known about how a strong quasi-static magnetic field affects the physics of laser-plasma interactions at relativistic intensities. Until recently, limited capabilities for producing relevant experimental conditions have been one of the major stumbling blocks in this research. However, new capabilities associated with ns and ps-long kJ-level lasers have started to emerge. These capabilities can potentially enable experimental studies of laser-plasma interactions in applied magnetic fields that are tens and even hundreds of Tesla strong. The primary goal of our project is to develop, combining theory, simulations, and experiments, a first-principle understanding of the role played by strong magnetic fields in laser-matter interactions at relativistic intensities and of the resulting high-energy density phenomena. The project explores how to utilize a quasi-static applied magnetic field to enhance energies of laser-accelerated electrons and to alter ion acceleration caused by collective behavior of these hot electrons. Scientific results of this project would pave the way to improvements of those numerous applications that rely on energetic electrons or protons and stimulate further development of the experimental capabilities for magnetic field generation.

 

Laser-structured target interaction

 

  • Directed high energy radiation and particle beams generated using extreme magnetic fields. The multi-PW, multi-beam laser facilities that are currently under construction will offer a unique capability of driving multiple current filaments in a dense plasma that can sustain extreme magnetic fields. The main goal of the project is to investigate how such a capability can be leveraged to create previously unattainable extreme conditions for delivering directed high-energy radiation and particle beams. We are also conducting a feasibility study for direct experimental detection of the laser-driven MT magnetic fields using novel capabilities that will become available at the next-generation laser facilities, which would be critical for validating the regimes of interest experimentally. The ultimate goal of the project is to develop fundamental understanding of how multiple laser beams of extreme intensity interact with matter in order to develop experiments that would access the most promising regimes for gamma ray and pair production at the next generation laser systems, including ELI.