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British Researchers Awarded EPSRC Funding for Quantum Laser Project

Photonics.com
Oct 2018
PLYMOUTH, England, Oct. 22, 2018 — Scientists at the University of Plymouth have been awarded funding to investigate quantum physics using lasers.

Funded largely through a grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the study aims to address model shortcomings for quantum effects and improve both theoretical and numerical models of intense laser-particle interactions.

This image shows how a distribution of electrons in a 'transverse magnetic doughnut' laser can be focused to, and then expelled from, a single point. Improving our understanding of complex, nonlinear particle dynamics in intense laser fields is one of the goals of the new program. Courtesy of University of Plymouth.
This image shows how a distribution of electrons in a “transverse magnetic doughnut”  laser can be focused to, and then expelled from, a single point. Improving the understanding of complex, nonlinear particle dynamics in intense laser fields is one of the goals of the new program. Courtesy of University of Plymouth.

“New experiments will begin this year, and will be able to probe the transition from classical to quantum physics in intense electromagnetic fields,” said Anton Ilderton, a project leader and lecturer in theoretical physics at the University of Plymouth. “In order to ensure that such experiments are properly analyzed, it is crucial that we improve our theoretical and numerical models.”

To meet this experimental demand, Plymouth scientists will use their expertise in quantum field theory to extend numerical models to include currently neglected quantum processes in a systematic way that can be immediately employed by researchers working on the simulation and analysis of experiments.

“This program will also impact our understanding of astrophysical objects such as magnetars, where one finds exotic quantum phenomena in some of the strongest magnetic fields in the universe,” said Ben King, another one of the project’s leaders.

“UC San Diego’s partnership with Nikon is very exciting because it will enrich both the scientific research capabilities and educational activities on campus,” said Samara Reck-Peterson, a professor at UC San Diego and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. “There are many long-term applications of our research; it is possible, for example, to use intense lasers to generate radiation sources with unique properties, which find applications across the sciences, from biology, where they help our ability to fight illness, to nuclear physics, where they help us perform nonintrusive scanning.”

GLOSSARY
quantum
Smallest amount into which the energy of a wave can be divided. The quantum is proportional to the frequency of the wave. See photon.
BusinessUniversity of PlymouthquantumlasersawardsEngineering and Physical Sciences Research CouncilEPSRCgrantsEurope

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