Laser-plasma & ultrafast x-ray science

We use ultrafast pulses of x-rays, visible light, and terahertz radiation to study the extreme states of matter generated by laser-plasma interactions - which are of interest to studies of fusion and planetary cores - and to probe strongly correlated systems and phase transitions of interest to condensed matter physics.


Much of our work is undertaken at national and international facilities, using the world's most powerful visible lasers and the new generation of x-ray free-electron lasers. However, we also have laboratories in Oxford which house several femtosecond laser systems with peak output powers up to 2 terawatts.

Our experimental work is supported by numerical simulations. For example, our transient high pressure experiments are modelled with multi-million atom classical molecular dynamics simulations, as well as Quantum Calculations based on Density Functional Theory.

The laser-plasma interactions we study have several applications which we are exploring. These include the generation of coherent soft x-rays through very high-order nonlinear processes, and plasma accelerators - a new type of very compact particle accelerator.