Using High-Power, Pulsed Lasers to Generate Hot, Dense Environments

Friday, March 1, 2013 -
1:00pm to 2:00pm
Thomas Donnelley
Speaker's Institution: 
Harvey Mudd College

When they where first invented in 1960, someone quipped that "Lasers are a solution waiting for a problem."  That challenge has been met so effectively that today lasers are ubiquitous in everyday life, to say nothing of their presence in laboratories.  A series of scientific, engineering, and material-science breakthroughs have allowed lasers to become ever more powerful, and today laser pulses are produced which reach a peak power in excess of 1 PW (10^15 W).  I will discuss some of the basic ideas used to build these high-power lasers, and then will describe work that we have done using these lasers to studying the interaction of high-power laser pulses with micron-scale targets.  In particular, I will describe how we have tailored the laser-matter interactions to produce hot, dense systems that can act as a fusion plasma.