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High-field physics

The extremely high electric fields attainable in the focus of a high intensity laser allow for the acceleration of particles up to ultra-relativistic energies (Lorentz factors greatly exceeding 103) and for the study of exotic phenomena at the frontier of physics, which include radiation reaction, light-light scattering, and polarisation of vacuum. Experimental studies of these phenomena are of central importance for a wide range of practical and fundamental applications, including understanding of the physical behaviour of extreme astrophysical objects, such as quasars and black holes, advancing our fundamental knowledge of strong-field quantum electrodynamics, and the construction of the next-generation, ultra-compact particle accelerators.

Our group at the Centre for Plasma Physics is at the fore-front of these studies nationally and internationally. We are key members of large-scale international programmes including PWASC, EuPRAXIA, and ALEGRO and we lead large-scale experimental campaigns in world-class research infrastructures, including the Stanford Linear Accelerator (SLAC), the Central Laser Facility in the UK, and the HERCULES laser at the University of Michigan. Our main collaborators in this area include: Imperial College London (UK), University of Michigan (USA), Stanford Pulse Institute (USA), Princeton University (USA), Max-Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics (Germany), University of York (UK), and Istituto Superior Tecnico (Portugal).


1. F.C. Salgado et al., Single particle detection system for strong-field QED experiments, New J. Phys., 24, 015002 (2022).

2. J. Cole et al., Experimental evidence of radiation reaction in the collision of a high-intensity laser pulse with a laser-wakefield accelerated electron beam, Physical Review X 8, 011020 (2018).

3. K. Poder et al., Experimental signatures of the quantum nature of radiation reaction in the field of an ultraintense laser, Physical Review X 8, 031004 (2018).