Extreme Optical Physics: Light & Matter Interaction in the Relativistic Limit
Feb 16, 2011
3:20PM to 4:20PM
Date(s) - 16/02/2011
3:20 pm - 4:20 pm
Title: Extreme Optical Physics: Light & Matter Interaction in the Relativistic Limit
Speaker: Dr. Robin Marjoribanks, Univ of Toronto
Institute: University of Toronto
Location: ABB 102
Some of the most interesting experiments in the interaction of light and matter in the last decade have been those that have pushed at the limits of what conditions can be produced in the laboratory, under a kind of assumption that interesting things often appear in looking where no-one previously could go. Ultra-intense few-cycle laser pulses now can have electric fields which are many orders of magnitude greater than the Coulomb field of hydrogen, taking optical physics far past the perturbative limit and into wildly nonlinear regimes where electron motion is always relativistic and solid-density matter is heated from room temperature to tens of millions of degrees in femtoseconds.
Qualitative milestones mark the route that has brought us to a new regime of physics; I’ll outline the main conceptual thresholds, and describe what we and our intense-interaction colleagues have recently accomplished in the lab, including things like producing harmonics of the laser frequency over hundreds of orders, or attosecond pulses having bandwidth spanning visible through x-ray, as well as new prospects for future particle accelerators, or for igniting laser-fusion.