COLOQUIO. 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics
Half of the Nobel Prize of 2018 has been awarded jointly to Gérard Mourou and Donna Strickland “for their method of generating high-intensity, ultra-short optical pulses” This is based on a work done at the Univ. of Rochester around 1985. That pioneering work allowed the T^3 lasers (T-cubed, for Table Top Terawatt) since the existing Terawatt lasers before 1985 were monster lasers. Today a Terawatt laser is reasonably compact, a Petawatt is possible and the road for the Exawatt is in progress. The talk will review the origins of this technology and the present status.
But there is another more relevant question, what is such a laser good for? Such extreme lasers can be tightly focused and the intensity -peak intensity- available for experiments can exceed 10^22 W/cm^2. What happens to an atom inside this extreme laser field? Answering this question you will understand why our Petawatt laser needs a license form the Nuclear Safety Council in spite of being an optical (infrared) laser.
The focus of such intense lasers in a huge concentration of photons, infrared photons, impossible to be achieved by any other means, and represents an electric field that accelerates particles much more violently that any other accelerator in the world. Electron acceleration from rest to GeV energies is now achieved in many labs only in a few mm!!! Can we dream with future mini accelerators?
Besides, such lasers are becoming a promising tool to get extremely short pulses of X-rays at the sub-femtosecond scale.
Coordinators: Silvia Gallego, Concepción Gutiérrez