A. Arefiev, D. Stark, T. Toncian, and M. Murakami, "Birefringence in thermally anisotropic relativistic plasmas and its impact on laser-plasma interactions", Phys. Plasmas 27, 063106 (2020).
One of the paradigm-shifting phenomena triggered in laser–plasma interactions at relativistic intensities is the so-called relativistic transparency. As the electrons become heated by the laser to relativistic energies, the plasma becomes transparent to the laser light even though the plasma density is sufficiently high to reflect the laser pulse in the non-relativistic case. This paper highlights the impact that relativistic transparency can have on laser-matter interactions by focusing on a collective phenomenon that is associated with the onset of relativistic transparency: plasma birefringence in thermally anisotropic relativistic plasmas. The optical properties of such a system become dependent on the polarization of light, and this can serve as the basis for plasma-based optical devices or novel diagnostic capabilities.