High-energy-density science broadly encompasses high-power laser-matter interactions, laboratory astrophysics, planetary science, inertial confinement fusion, plasma accelerators, relativistic laboratory plasma physics, ultra-high-pressure solid-state physics and material science, and novel high-field physics. Much of it is based on high-power optical and X-ray free-electron laser technology.
High-power optical lasers
The strong electric fields present in the foci of high-power optical lasers are used (indirectly) to drive the next-generation accelerators, allow direct investigations of non-linear quantum effects, and probe fundamental physics in the low-energy scale. While yet to achieve energy gain, inertial-confinement-fusion experiments have attained near ignition conditions with peak neutron fluxes comparable to those present in supernovae explosions, which provides an opportunity to study nucleosynthesis under conditions relevant to stellar interiors.
X-ray free-electron lasers
The advent of hard X-ray free-electron lasers in the last decade has increased the spectral brightness of earth-bound X-ray sources by a factor of a billion, opening up myriad avenues for novel research across a wide range of scientific disciplines from biological science, condensed-matter physics, atomic and molecular physics, plasma physics, and high-pressure science. When combined with high-power optical lasers, X-ray free-electron lasers can create and interrogate new regions of the phase space of solid-state matter, giving rise to fascinating opportunities such as the creation and diagnosis of the conditions found in the cores of exoplanets.
Powerful laser system
We are performing state-of-the-art simulations of quantum plasmas and we are developing novel machine learning techniques with automated data-analysis methods to provide new ways to analyse data from experiments. Our own laboratories in Oxford contain the most powerful laser system in the University and provide an invaluable resource for research and for training and preparation for experiments at international facilities.
Our research is focused on the following areas:
- Plasma accelerators (Hooker, Norreys)
- Inertial fusion energy (Norreys, Wark, Gregori, Rose)
- Laboratory astrophysics (Gregori, Bell, Wark, Rose)
- Matter at extreme pressures, planetary cores (Wark, Vinko, Gregori)
- Dynamic compression of solids (Wark)
- Low-energy probes of fundamental physics (Gregori, Norreys, Rose)
- Machine learning in high energy density science (Vinko)