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Matter and Light in Extreme Conditions

Since the creation of the laser more than 50 years ago, continued progress in decreasing pulse length (a few femtoseconds) and in increasing their energy makes it possible to achieve high powers. Today, the Apollon project has reached 10 PW, while the future will bring the Zetawatt.

>Such power make it possible to reach considerable flow surface densities and recreate conditions found in the stars and planets in the laboratory.
>The objective is to understand the behavior of matter in its extreme conditions and help manage fusion energy.
>These laser powers can also allow for the creation of secondary radiation sources, the design of new applications for non-destructive testing and proton therapy, and even the development of new particle accelerator technology.

These projects make École Polytechnique laboratories international leaders.


Some ongoing projects:

High-energy proton lenses for health
Research conducted on laser-plasma interaction could produce many applications, particularly imaging and proton therapy. Their principles are based on the production of a high-energy proton source. Through simulations conducted with the PIC code of the Theoretical Physics Center (CPHT), researchers from the CPHT, the Irradiated Solids Laboratory (LSI) and the Laboratory of Intense Laser Use (LULI) showed that stimulating a surface wave generated during the interaction of an intense and ultra-short laser pulse with a non-flat target (called structured), can increase proton energy compared to the energy obtained in the case of interaction with a flat target. These results were validated through experiments at the Ultra-High Intensity (UHI) laser facility of CEA-Saclay.

When lasers meet intense magnetic fields
The Laboratory for the User of Intense Lasers (LULI) has a new device which combines lasers and intense magnetic fields.  It can test and study plasma, a state of ionized matter that exists in large quantities in the universe. This process is therefore very useful for astrophysics and nuclear fusion (fusion by inertial confinement). The first results, obtained in collaboration with the Centre Lasers Intenses et Applications (Intense Lasers and Applications Center) (Talence, France) and the Laboratoire d’Étude du Rayonnement et de la Matière en Astrophysique (Radiation and Astrophysics Material Study Laboratory) (Meudon, France), now make it possible to test astrophysics models of plasma evolution. The LULI2000 and ELFIE laser units at LULI were connected to a device that can produce intense pulsed magnetic fields (up to 40 Teslas) in collaboration with the Laboratoire National des Champs Magnétiques Intenses (LNCMI) in Toulouse and the Centre Helmholtz de Dresde-Rossendorf in Germany, as part of the SILAMPA projects for the Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR - The French National Research Agency) and ELAM of the Physics Triangle.