Prof Zepf is Professor in Physics. He has previously been at Imperial College as a Researcher and obtained a PhD at the Univerisity of Oxford after undergraduate studies at Heidelberg University.
Honours and awards include Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award (2003), a visiting Professor at the Univeristy of Munich and the Max-Plank Institute for Quantumoptics (2001). an EPSRC Advanced Fellowship (2000). In addition, he has been a member many panels and committees sponsored by EPSRC and the Central Laser Facility of the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. He is also the UK representative on the managing committee of COST MP601 action on X-ray sources sponsored by the EU and on the advisory panel to the Alpha-X project at the University of Strahclyde.
Research Interests: My main research interests are in the area of ultra-intense laser matter interactions. Such lasers have typical intensities of 1018-1021Wcm-2 – some 1020 (or 100 000 000 000 000 000 000) times brighter than the suns rays on earth. To make such powerful pulses feasible, they must be very short – typically 10-1000fs. To imagine quite how short this is it helps that light travel from here to the moon in 1 second, i.e. 300 000 km. A 10fs pulse by comparison is a thin disk of light only as thick as 1/10th of a human hair. Pariticular topics are:
Proton Acceleration Intense lasers allow the acceleration of particles to multi-MeV energies over extremely short distances (microns rather than 100's of metres in classical accelerators).
Inertial fusion energy: Fast Ignition makes use of short laser pulses as an spark plug to set of nuclear fusion reactions. High power lasers can be used to heat matter to 100 million Kelvin and to compress it to densities close to 1000x solid density. The aim is to achieve both simultaneously and achieve fusion energy gain, and ultimately with a view of finding a sustainable route to the energy crisis.
Short pulse X-ray production and high harmonic generation: The extreme electric fields associated with fs duration lasers allow the study of matter in extreme conditions. The highly non-linear behaviour of atoms and plasma-vacuum interfaces in such laser fields leads to the conversion of laser light to very (> 100th order) harmonics, which lie in the soft X-ray regime. Our latest results have shown that harmonics generated from relativistically oscillating plasma surfaces are one of the brightest X-ray sources and will allow us to open up a new window on the world.