University of Birmingham > Talks@bham > Physics and Astronomy Colloquia > Extreme Light ! - An Overview of Research at the UK’s Central Laser Facility

Extreme Light ! - An Overview of Research at the UK’s Central Laser Facility

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The interaction of an ultra-high power laser pulse with matter is a violent event by any measure. The laser light, being some 22 or more orders of magnitude brighter than sunlight, causes material to be instantly vaporised, ionised, heated and compressed such that truly extreme conditions rapidly evolve. The highest man-made pressures, densities, electric fields, magnetic fields and accelerations in macroscopic quantities of material have all been created by the interaction of a high power laser with matter. This interaction therefore represents two powerful paradigms. First, it is an incredible tool to undertake scientific investigations of the most extreme of conditions and, secondly, it opens up powerful new opportunities for the development of advanced technology that has the potential to have a revolutionary societal and economic impact. Moreover, through the development and application of derivative and highly specialised systems, it is now possible, for example, to optically image at the single molecule level some ~100x below the optical diffraction limit or resolve electronic and molecular dynamics on the femto- and atto- second timescales. These again offer pioneering scientific opportunities that combine with direct application that have major economic significance. This description précis the work of the STFC Central Laser Facility (CLF), located at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire. The CLF is one of the world’s leading research centres for laser based science and applications and is home to many advanced laser systems, including the world’s most powerful lasers. It is an open access user facility that serves both a national and international community. Applications of its work include future energy production, life sciences, advanced biological imaging, understanding cancer, next generation accelerators, new medical diagnostics and treatments, security/imaging applications, advanced manufacturing, remote sensing, climate change to name a few, as well as a wealth of diverse scientific investigation. In this presentation I will present an overview of the work of the CLF and its Community.

This talk is part of the Physics and Astronomy Colloquia series.

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