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With: N. Iji, K. Langfeld (UoP), C. Harvey, A. Ilderton, M. Marklund (Ume), A. Wipf (Jena), H. Schwoerer (Stellenbosch), B. Kmpfer, R. Sauerbrey, D. Seipt (FZD)

1. 2. 3.

Introduction Strong Fields: Theory Strong Fields: Examples

1. 2. 3.

Nonlinear Compton Scattering Laser Pair Production Vacuum Birefringence


Conclusion and Outlook


50 Years of Laser Development

Important parameter: dim.less amplitude

Energy gain of across laser wavelength : relativistic

(adapted from Mourou, Tajima, Bulanov, RMP 78, 2006)

Regime of Extremes
Current magnitudes:
Power Intensity Electric field Magnetic field

Largest e.m. fields currently available in lab But: fields pulsed and alternating

Laser Projects
CLF Vulcan 10 PW
1023 Wcm-2 Construction by 2014 (?) Budget: 20 M (?)
Building (projected)

>100 PW (Exawatt ?) >1025 Wcm-2 Budget: several 100 M Construction by 2016 (?)

2. Strong Fields: Theory

Modelling a laser
In order of increasing complexity:
Plane wave
Infinite (IPW) Pulsed (PPW)
Finite T-duration Infinite transverse extension
T w

Gaussian beam:
Finite transverse waist w Finite longitudinal extension z0


Plane waves: peculiarities

Null wave vector Electromagnetic field
only dependent on invariant phase Transverse Null: No intrinsic invariant scale! Need (probe) momentum to build invariants E.g. (TH, A. Ilderton, Opt. Comm. 2009)

Charge in IPW
Solution of Lorentz force eq.: rapid quiver motion (momentum ) Charge acquires quasi-momentum Longitudinal addition consequence: Effective mass squared The basic intensity effect!
(Sengupta 1951, Kibble 1964)

Strong-field QED
Probe photons Volkov soln of Dirac eqn in PW field (Volkov 1935) Electrons dressed by laser photons (---------) Volkov electron:

Build transition amps between Volkov electrons from Feynman rules (`Furry picture)

Main issues

Intensity dependence of elementary processes (see below ) Finite (beam) size effects (see below ) Beyond plane waves (? )

Exploring intensity dependence

High intensity ( standard model
energy High-intensity QED SLAC

) = uncharted region of

10 PW

Backscattered (5 GeV )

1 PW

all-optical 100 102 103 106

Charge in pulsed PW
Volkov propagator
Mass shift depends on pulse duration, gradually builds up with number of cycles per pulse, Finite (temporal) size effects NB: ultra short pulses

Kibble, Salam, Strathdee 1975

3. Strong Fields: Examples

3.1 Nonlinear Compton Scattering (NLC)

NLC scattering
Expand Furry picture Feynman diagram Sum over all processes of the type

Schott 1912; Nikishov/Ritus 1964, Brown/Kibble 1964, Goldman 1964

NLC: main features

No energy threshold! Classical limit: Thomson ( ) For : frequency upshift Used for X-ray generation Nonlinearity:
Electron Bunch (e = 235)
Femtosecond gamma-ray pulse (0.78 MeV)

Terawatt laser pulse (a0 = 0.05) T-REX, LLNL (2008)

NLC contd
For high intensity, modified Compton edge

In particular:
Higher harmonics: n >1 (nonlinear) Overall blueshift maintained as long as Redshift of n=1 edge

NLC spectrum: main a0 effects

Linear Compton edge Red-shift Higher harmonics, n >1

C. Harvey, TH, A. Ilderton, PRA 79, 2009

a0 dependence (lab)

Tuning a0 similar to changing frame: when inverse Compton Compton

C. Harvey, TH, A. Ilderton, PRA 79, 2009

Finite Size Effects

Strongly focussed: Weakly focussed:



Finite Size NL Thomson Spectra

Strongly focussed: Weakly focussed:

= 0 mrad

= 5 mrad

= 10 mrad

TH, D. Seipt, B. Kmpfer, PRA 81, 2010

3. Strong Fields: Examples

3.2 Laser Pair Production (PP)

Stimulated PP
Obtained from NLC via crossing

Main new feature: energy threshold Experiment SLAC E-144 (1995): combine both processes ...

SLAC E-144 (Bula et al. 96, Burke et al. 97)

Two stages:
NLC stimulated PP

Gil Eisner, Photonics Spectra 1997

New development: prediction of pair cascades

(Bell, Kirk et al.; Narozhny, Fedotov, Ruhl et al.)

Stimulated PP: finite-size effects

triple-diff rate = delta comb above threshold ( )

dependence on cycles per pulse, Sub-threshold signals IPW approached for
TH, A. Ilderton, M. Marklund, 2010

Wave train vs. pulse:


Spectrum = fingerprint of pulse!

Spontaneous (vacuum) PP ( G. Dunnes talk)

Feynman diagram
vacuum breakdown

Nonzero for , (Schwinger 1951) Identically zero for pure (no work done) Identically zero for PW ( compensates )


3. Strong Fields: Examples

3.3 Vacuum Birefringence (VB)

Heisenberg, Euler 1936

...even in situations where the [photon] energy is not sufficient for matter production, its virtual possibility will result in a polarization of the vacuum and hence in an alteration of Maxwells equations.

Optical Theorem (Kramers-Kronig)

Total PP rate can be obtained via

Vacuum polarisation

Virtual dipoles feel presence of Re : change of polarisation state diagonalisation of (for X-fields = PW two nontrivial eigenvalues

Vacuum birefringence (Brezin, Itzykson 1970)

Calcite crystal

Two indices of refraction (Toll 1952) Dim.less (small) parameters:

Field strength: Probe frequency fine structure const

Experiment: measure ellipticity

Phase retardation of e+

ellipticity (squared)

Power law suppressed Optimal scenario @ ELI

large intensity: large probe frequency (X-ray, New record in polarisation purity:
(Marx et al., Opt. Comm., 2010)



Large- birefringence via NLC

for : 3 GeV @ ELI, 10 GeV @ Vulcan10PW
(Toll 1952 TH, O. Schrder 2006 Shore 2007)

(K. Langfeld)

Anomalous dispersion

Absorption PP

NB: SLAC E-144 had

vacuum PP

Stimulated PP

Vacuum birefringence

NL Compton/Thomson

Laser power approaching exawatt regime Extreme field physics Schwinger limit: QED Experiments planned or under way X-ray generation: Theory ( dependence) :
Ok for plane wave models Challenge: incorporate realistic laser beam model
Finite size effects Beyond plane waves Numerical approaches

Thank you very much...

for your attention