South African Journal of Science
On-line version ISSN 1996-7489
Print version ISSN 0038-2353
SCHWOERER, Heinrich. Particle acceleration with lasers. S. Afr. j. sci. [online]. 2008, vol.104, n.7-8, pp.299-304. ISSN 1996-7489.
Within less than a decade, scientists have learned how to use high-intensity lasers to accelerate electrons within a few millimetres to 1 GeV and how to produce ultrashort pulsed proton beams with extremely small emittances. Laser science has touched upon applications in accelerator and synchrotron physics, in hot dense matter and nuclear physics, and one has started to speculate on the feasibility of hitherto experimentally inaccessible nonlinear quantum electrodynamical effects like, for example, photon-photon scattering. Today's acceleration of charged particles by lasers has evolved from the large programmes on inertial confinement fusion that have long been conducted in France and the United States. As fusion laser installations have grown to the size of several soccer fields, however, they place limits on the flexibility of systematic fundamental research. But with the advent of compact, ultra-intense and ultrashort pulsed laser systems, the field of relativistic laser plasma physics has exploded in recent years.