The scientific activity of LOA is set in 6 research areas. The first topic is related to the production of the shortest time duration laser pulses to provide the highest laser intensity with compact (table-top) and high repetition rate laser systems. This leads to the development of high-temporal contrast, high peak power few-optical-cycle pulses to drive relativistic-intensity laser-plasma interactions.
The second topic is related to the fundamental aspects of laser plasma interaction in the relativistic regime to develop compact particle accelerators as compared to conventional technologies and the applications of the beams they produce. X-ray sources generated from these particle beams or from hot laser-produced plasmas are the scope of the third topic. Teams are studying how to produce and control intense and ultrafast radiations over a large range of spectral wavelengths and X-ray properties. The fourth topic covers every aspect of the nonlinear propagation of ultrashort lasers in transparent media like in air to understand fundamental phenomena related to laser-based filamentation.
First objective of the research teams is getting better fundamental knowledge in ultrafast laser-plasma science. This is done on the best effort basis, with dissemination of the results at national and international conferences, publication in top-ranked and wide-range journals or more specialized ones, as well as the participation in many collaborative research programs within the local environment and at European levels. However, the properties of the secondary sources and ultrafast plasmas provide unique opportunities to develop transverse application, most of the time in close collaboration with academic and industrial teams from these fields.
One topic focuses on high resolution imaging, taking advantages of the compactness, small source size, short pulse duration and perfect time synchronization of the laser, particle and x-ray beams. We’re addressing more specifically applications in solid state physics and x-ray metrology. The second topic includes programs at the interface of physics and bio-medicine as well as industrial application in response to societal and military needs like non-destructive testing for example. We are developing innovative approaches for imaging healthy and pathological tissues, to study radiobiology at extremely high dose, to develop new concepts of applications based on laser filaments like remote underwater sonar, plasma antenna, aeronautic laser spike or the control of high voltage discharge like lightning. One challenge of these developments is to provide enough beam time and stable beam or plasma properties to the teams for reliable and long-term studies. This can be only addressed with dedicated experimental platforms that are not devoted to fundamental laser-plasma research. LOA has then strongly pushed towards this direction by setting several experimental sites and constructing new infrastructures.