Newsfrom our faculty members and students
2018 Nobel Prize in Physics celebrates lasersOctober 11 2018
This year’s Nobel Prize in Physics was shared between Gérard Mourou (École Polytechnique, France), Donna Strickland (University of Waterloo, Canada) and Arthur Ashkin (Bell Laboratories, USA). The work of the first two winners, who were awarded half the prize, consisted of the invention of the Chirped Pulse Amplification (CPA) technique in the mid-1980s, which enabled increasing the power of ultrashort lasers to previously unattainable levels.
Thanks to their invention, ultrashort, ultraintense lasers have become ubiquitous, paving the way for applications ranging from dermatology to ophthalmology and from laser acceleration to pulsed X-ray generation and laboratory astrophysics.
DF congratulates the winners, whose work has been seminal to the development of high-intensity lasers and laser-plasma interaction, and celebrates their achievement. The award-winning Gérard Mourou is a long time collaborator of faculty members of DF.
Prof. Luís Silva, and Prof. Marta Fajardo worked together with Mourou on the genesis of the ELI Project - Extreme Light Infrastructure, started in 2005, with the goal of building in Europe the most powerful laser system in the world. Together with Mourou, they co-authored the ELI White Paper.
The researchers also led several work-packages of this Project, such as the International Communication (M. Fajardo). In 2010, the decision was taken to coordinate the ELI Project in three poles, which have been set up in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania, which are now entering the operational phase. Marta Fajardo is part, with Gérard Mourou, of the International Commission of Scientific and Technical Advice of ELI.
IST, through GoLP/IPFN operates several high-intensity laser systems at its IST facilities, based on the CPA technique invented by Mourou and Strickland. In fact, this technique is now used in all high-intensity laser installations, which testifies to its long-lasting impact on laser physics.
Prof. Gonçalo Figueira, a specialist in the CPA technique, built and installed the first CPA laser in Portugal in 1998, having developed others since then. Prof. Luís Silva uses numerical methods to simulate the use of these lasers for particle acceleration and to exploit plasmas under extreme conditions. Prof. Marta Fajardo has expanded the CPA concept to the X-ray lasers domain, proposing and demonstrating the CPA-X technique using lasers in plasmas and free electron lasers.
The Laboratory for Intense Lasers and the VOXEL station are two experimental facilities run by Prof. Gonçalo Figueira and Prof. Marta Fajardo that makes extensive use of the CPA technique. At these labs, tens of young researchers have been trained and joined the ranks of science thanks to this extraordinary invention.
DF celebrates this very extraordinary recognition for lasers and laser-plasma interaction and hopes that it may inspire other young researchers to contribute to this fascinating area of physics.
AWAKE accelerates electrons with IST teamSeptember 03 2018
In a paper published in the journal Nature, the AWAKE collaboration at CERN, which includes the teams of Prof. Luis O. Silva and Prof. Jorge Vieira, reports the first ever successful acceleration of electrons using a wave generated by protons zipping through a plasma. The acceleration obtained over a given distance is already several times higher than that of conventional technologies currently available for particle accelerators. First proposed in the 1970s, the use of plasma waves (or so called wakefields) has the potential to drastically reduce the size of accelerators in the next several decades. The image, by Prof. Jorge Vieira, illustrates the concept: the proton beam breaks up in small beamlets (yellow), that drive a plasma wave and the corresponding electric field (blue isosurfaces), that accelerate the co-propagating electrons (small spheres, where color is proportional to the energy of the electrons). AWAKE, which stands for "Advanced WAKEfield Experiment", is a proof-of-principle compact accelerator project for accelerating electrons to very high energies over short distances. Accelerating particles to greater energies over shorter distances is crucial to achieving high-energy collisions that physicists use to probe the fundamental laws of nature, and may also prove to be important in a wide range of industrial and medical applications.
Professor Steve Cowley to lead PPPLMay 18 2018
Professor Steve Cowley, a member of the External Advisory Board of APPLAuSE and member of faculty selection committees at IST, has been named director of DOE’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory effective July 1 2018 . We wish Prof. Cowley all the success in his new endeavour, and we look forward to strengthen the collaborations between PPPL/Princeton University and IST.
Professor João Pedro Bizarro appointed as Associate ProfessorFebruary 28 2018
Professor João Pedro Bizarro has been recently appointed as Associate Professor in the Physics Department as a result of a recent call. Prof. Bizarro's research addresses theory and modelling of tokamak plasmas, friction in thermodynamics, and discrete Wigner functions. Currently Prof. Bizarro also serves as the Program Director of the APPLAuSE PhD Program.
New faculty members formally join DFFebruary 04 2018
The newly appointed faculty members of the scientific area Bruno Gonçalves, Carlos Silva, and Rui Coelho have now formally signed their contracts as permanent research faculty (or tenure-track in the case of Rui Coelho) as, from right to left in the picture, Principal Researcher (Carlos Silva and Bruno Gonçalves) and Assistant Researcher (Rui Coelho), strengthening the competencies of the department in Nuclear Fusion. We welcome the new faculty members to the Department of Physics and the scientific area of Plasma Physics, Lasers and Nuclear Fusion.