High-power Laser Workshop Will Highlight New Capabilities at LCLS


August 8, 2013

A High-power Laser Workshop on Oct. 1-2 at SLAC will feature the latest results and opportunities for laser-based studies of superhot plasmas and other exotic states of matter. It will also highlight upgrades to a high-power laser system at the Matter in Extreme Conditions (MEC) instrument at SLAC’s Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS). Those upgrades will enable a new range of experiments exploring the properties of matter at extreme temperatures and pressures.

The five-part workshop is scheduled during the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource (SSRL)/LCLS Annual Users' Meeting and Workshops and will include a vendor exhibition and poster session. Poster abstracts are due Aug. 31, and a PDF for each poster is due by Sept. 15.

Siegfried Glenzer, a SLAC expert on plasma physics experiments with lasers, Roger Falcone of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Stefan Hau-Riege of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory are event co-organizers.

Participants will discuss an upgrade now underway to a high-power, short-pulse laser at MEC that will boost it from 4 terawatts to 30 terawatts of peak power, as well as plans for an additional upgrade to 200 terawatts. A terawatt is 1 trillion watts, enough to power 10 billion 100-watt light bulbs.

With the upgrade, SLAC's high-power laser can be used to either "pump" matter into extreme states or probe extreme states of matter created by the X-ray laser or another laser source. The applications of these experiments can vary widely, from geophysics and astrophysics to materials science and fusion energy.

"This is a game-changer," Glenzer said. "You can do really exquisite pump-probe experiments, and you can accumulate a lot of data." Unlike the long-pulse laser at LCLS, which can fire only once every 5 to 10 minutes, the high-power, short-pulse laser will fire about five times a second. For comparison, the LCLS X-ray laser pulses arrive at a rate of up to 120 pulses per second.

The high-power laser upgrades could lead to broader uses for the laser systems at the LCLS MEC, Glenzer said, and would allow an array of laser-only experiments to be carried out independently of the LCLS X-ray laser, which is in high demand.

The workshop will be useful in gauging the high-power laser community's plans and needs, Glenzer said: "What's most important? What diagnostics and targets do they want?"

The registration fee for the full workshop is $200 general and $100 for students, including postdoctoral researchers. The scientific program includes:

  • "New Directions for High-Energy Density Physics at the Matter in Extreme Conditions (MEC) Instrument" will be led by Glenzer and Phil Heimann, who oversees the instrument. It will include a tour of LCLS, experimental results and techniques at MEC, new directions for high-energy-density research at MEC, a poster session and dinner.
  • "Frontiers of High-power Laser-matter Interactions" will feature studies of highly charged matter at extremely high densities and temperatures, the use of high-power lasers to accelerate electrons, studies of laser-matter interactions and the latest progress in laser-based fusion research.
  • "High-power Laser Science and Technology" will include sessions on new technologies and scientific applications for high-intensity lasers and a planned European high-power laser research facility.
  • "New Directions" will include sessions on laser-based astrophysics experiments and research opportunities using free-electron lasers.
  • "MEC Capabilities and Priorities" will discuss planned upgrades and priorities for new diagnostics, detectors and other components to advance the scientific capabilities of MEC.

High-power Laser Workshop website: http://conf-slac.stanford.edu/hpl-2013/.