State-of-art laser systems in 2016 are capable of delivering a laser pulse with intensity up to 2 × 10^22 W cm−2. Multi-Petawatt and ten PetaWatt lasers have been built and are expected to reach ∼10^24 W cm−2 and beyond. This opens the door for studying light–matter interactions as well as QED effects in unexplored domains. Diverse schemes have been proposed for energetic e−e+ pairs production via the BW process using ultrarelativistic lasers. It is shown that using multiple colliding lasers for pair cascades in vacuum can reduce the required laser intensity down to ∼10^26 W cm−2. This intensity is significantly smaller than the Schwinger value. An alternative scheme relies on the energetic electrons from a laser-driven gas jet or thin solid target by using either two counter-propagating lasers or a single laser. The positron beam produced is very bright and energetic. However, the required laser intensity is as high as ∼10^24 W cm−2, still two orders of magnitude higher than that of the available lasers.
Absorption covers the physical processes which convert intense photon flux into energetic particles when a high-power laser illuminates optically-thick matter. It underpins important petawatt-scale applications today, e.g., medical-quality proton beam production. However, development of ultrahigh-field applications has been hindered since no study so far has described absorption throughout the entire transition from the classical to the quantum electrodynamical (QED) regime of plasma physics. Here we present a model of absorption that holds over an unprecedented six orders-of-magnitude in optical intensity and lays the groundwork for QED applications of laser-driven particle beams. We demonstrate 58% efficient γ-ray production at 1.8 × 10^25 W cm−2 and the creation of an anti-matter source achieving 4 × 10^24 positrons cm−3, a million times denser than of any known photonic scheme. These results will find applications in scaled laboratory probes of black hole and pulsar winds,γ-ray radiography for materials science and homeland security, and fundamental nuclear physics.
There will be a combined 120 Petawatts of laser facilities by 2018. There are 100-Petawatt laser facilities that could be completed late in 2018 and through 2019. There are over fifty Petawatt+ lasers facilities and about five more are being completed each year and existing facilities are being upgraded.
Multi-petawatt power capability projects.
* Chinese initiative at the Shanghai Institute of Optics and Fine Mechanics (SIOM) is advancing towards a 10-PW laser facility
* 100 Petawatt Station for Extreme Light (SEL) at the proposed Shanghai Coherent Light Facility (SCLF). 1500 joules in 15 femtoseconds.
* In South Korea, the Gwangju Institute for Science and Technology is presently commissioning a 4 PW capability that should be available to users in 2017.
* The University of Rochester’s Laboratory for Laser Energetics continues to work on the OPAL multi-phase laser initiative that could evolve from 5-PW to 75-PW capability. MTW-OPAL should be tested at 75 Petawatts in 2019.
* 20 Petawatt Vulcan Laser in the UK
* 50 Petawatt laser in Japan (Gekko-Exa)
* Exawatt Center for Extreme Light Studies in Russia, 200 Petawatt system
The first Pulsed Petawatt laser was achieved at Lawrence Livermore National labs in 1996.
Texas is building a ten petawatt pulse laser.
National Energetics passed a major milestone for its ten petawatt laser in 2016 and should have started the ten petawatt system at the end of 2017. Production and integration of all the remaining 200mm amplifier modules were followed by mating them to the ns-OPCPA output. In parallel, the 300 mm final amplifier module was under construction and test before integration. National Energetics has been partnering closely with ELI Beamlines.
Over the past two years, National Energetics has been developing a next-generation disc laser that overcomes the disc cooling issue and promises to lead to a new class of high-energy rep-rated lasers. The architecture consists of a cassette containing multiple discs with liquid cooling flowing between them. The laser beam passes through the coolant as well as the disc elements.
Shanghai Institute of Optics and Fine Mechanics has operational 5-10 Petawatt laser