Schedule Aug 04, 2006
Relativistic Optics: A New Gateway to Attosecond Physics
Gérard Mourou (LOA-ENSTA)

The generation of ultrahigh intense pulse has open up a new field in optics, the field of relativistic nonlinear optics, where the nonlinearity is dictated by the relativistic character of the electron. This young field has already produced a series of landmark experiments. Among them are the generation of energetic beams of particles (electrons, protons, ions, positrons), as well as beams of X-ray and ?-ray.

More recently it was shown by PIC simulations, that the light-induced large pressure on the critical surface could move the critical surface at relativistic velocity hence producing simultaneously short attosecond electron and attosecond electromagnetic pulses by relativistic compression. This novel approach to attosecond generation offers a new and efficient route to attosecond generation with some unique features: efficiency, pulse isolation and the potential to accommodate arbitrarily large amount of energy, since the plasma cannot be damaged. It has also been shown that the process of attosecond generation is accompanied by the generation of synchronized attosecond electron and photon pulses. In addition there is the possibility to scatter the laser pulse itself on the ultra short electron pulses to produce by coherent Thomson scattering ultra bright X-ray beams.

Finally, the efficient relativistic compression of laser pulses offers the possibility to produce pulses 1000 times shorter (few as) in the nm range without any limit in energy. The energy density would be such that nonlinear QED effects such as vacuum polarization or pair generation could be observed.In summary this overview will show that ultra relativistic optics could be a new gateway to attosecond physics, that could unify, Nuclear Physics High Energy Physics, astrophysics, General Relativity, Cosmology and Nonlinear QED

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