Nuclear Physics with Big Lasers

Dr. Craig Sangster
Experimental Division Director
Laboratory for Laser Energetics
University of Rochester


Kilojoule-class lasers around the world have been studying fusion reactions of the hydrogen isotopes for more than two decades.  In the US, the bulk of this Inertial Confinement Fusion (ICF) research is performed on the National Ignition Facility at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the Omega Laser at the Laboratory for Laser Energetics.  Recent (past decade) advances in diagnostic instrumentation in support of the ICF mission has created opportunities to apply the infrastructure of the big lasers to study select classes of nuclear physics that are difficult to address using conventional accelerator platforms.  Indeed, the first "plasma nuclear" paper based on the merits of the physics rather than the novelty of the technique was published by Physical Review Letters in 2011.  A number of other papers have been published since.  This talk will describe some of the recent "nuclear physics with big lasers" research and what may be possible as the performance of the lasers improve and the capability of the diagnostics evolve.