On the occasion of the symposium "A journey with lasers and physics at high intensities", Thales supported the École Polytechnique to commemorate on Friday, January 14, 2020, the 35th anniversary of the frequency drift amplification technique of laser pulses (CPA - Chirped Pulse Amplification) in the presence of its inventors: Gérard Mourou, professor emeritus and member of the Haut-colleague of the École Polytechnique, and Donna Strickland, his student in 1985, now professor at the University of Waterloo (Canada).
The CPA, a major invention
Frequency drift amplification (or chirped pulse amplification) is a technique for amplifying ultrashort laser pulses up to petawatt power levels (1015 watts). It consists in temporally lengthening the laser pulse through dispersive optical devices by spreading out its different spectral components, reducing its intensity, to better amplify it then, before recompressing it to its initial duration. A technique that Gérard Mourou admits having imagined while skiing in the United States.The technique of laser pulse frequency drift amplification has opened the way for ultra-intense lasers whose application fields are huge.
Thales, at the forefront of high power laser solutions
For over 30 years, Thales has been working hand in hand with the largest laboratories and the greatest researchers in the world, notably Gérard Mourou. Today, it is at the forefront of high power femtosecond laser solutions capable, thanks to the CPA, of generating extreme power in a very short time.
Throughout the day, the greatest personalities in the scientific world, Alexander Sergeev, president of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Jie Zang, former vice-president of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and many other prestigious speakers have followed one another to report on the progress of research and the next possible applications of the CPA.
Among these personalities, Marko Erman SVP Chief Scientific Officer at Thales, captivated his audience during his remarkable speech highlighting the performance of Thales high power lasers. For example, in Romania, on the ELI-NP program site, Thales has equipped the Romanian National Institute for Nuclear Physics and Engineering Horia Hulubei with the most powerful laser system in the world. Installed in a clean room of 2,400 m², this system composed of two lasers is capable of generating two beams with a peak power of the order of 10 petawatts, 20 million billion watts, a power level never reached before, an equivalent to one tenth of the sun's power on Earth!
Marko Erman during his speech.
Gérard Mourou experiencing the virtual visit of the ELI-NP’s Thales laser system.
High-power lasers, an as yet unexplored potential for applications in the service of humanity and industry
Dedicated to experimental physics and basic research, these high-power lasers open up new perspectives of discoveries for scientists. We can imagine today being able to create matter from a vacuum and therefore better understand the origin of the formation of the universe. We can imagine to accelerate processing time of radioactive nuclear waste. "We can reduce radioactivity from a million years to 30 minutes" explains Gérard Mourou
In the space field, high power lasers could be a solution for space debris, which could slow down our access to space. New advances in the knowledge of our space environment are possible. NASA will send this summer a new rover equipped with a Thales laser to join Curiosity and continue its exploration of Mars in search of signs of past life. In the medical field, femtosecond refractive surgery of the eye and cornea is already widely practiced and with proton therapy, progress is expected in the treatment of cancer.
So many exciting applications for the future well-being of humanity on Earth and our knowledge of the universe.This mastery of high power lasers allows Thales today to offer, in particular to the aeronautical, automotive and even semiconductor industries, solutions capable of optimizing and making industrial operations more profitable.
France recognizes the importance of Gérard Mourou's work
This event was the perfect opportunity for France to express Gérard Mourou its recognition, the invention of the CPA technique contributing to the image of France throughout the world. At the end of the conference, Gérard Mourou was awarded the Legion of Honor by Frédérique Vidal, Minister of Higher Education, Research and Innovation. Established by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802, the Legion of Honor has rewarded since its inception those who have rendered "eminent merits", military and civil, to the Nation.
Like Gerard Mourou, experience the virtual visit of the ELI-NP’s Thales laser system in Romania http://ecliptique.com/thales-eli/index_eli.html