Joint Research 2019-2023

Joint research activities (JRAs) in Laserlab-Europe V

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The topics of the JRAs are selected in order to facilitate major improvements, beyond the present state-of-the-art, of the participating RIs and their services, in particular their abilities to enable novel applications with high industrial and social impact. They will help preparing the Consortium and its Users for the future, in synergies with ESFRI infrastructures such as European XFEL, EUROFEL and ELI. The following JRAs will be pursued:

  • PRISES - PRImary and SEcondary Sources (Coordinator: HIJ)
  • ALTIS - Advanced Laser-based Techniques for Imaging and Spectroscopy in material science and biomedicine (Coordinator: LENS)

PRISES

Objectives: With this JRA, PRISES, LASERLAB-EUROPE invests in frontier laser technology and laser science by focusing on strategic advances that are critical for short-pulse, high-power lasers and their secondary sources of particles and radiation. It is based on three interconnected and strategic objectives where 28 partners jointly pursue, in total, 14 focused tasks.

Objective 1 - Primary laser source development and metrology: The problem of laser induced damage of critical optical components of highly performing lasers (high peak power, short pulse duration and high repetition rate) will be addressed with a multi-parameter and global approach. High power laser pulses are extremely challenging to characterize at real experimental conditions. We will develop novel spatio-temporal metrology solutions to identify spatio-temporal couplings affecting the laser propagation and target interaction. This work will be done in conjunction with stringent tests to high power optics, which need to sustain high power fluxes, high average powers and peak brightness without degradation to the pulse duration, coherence and energy. A special taskforce will be dedicated to the improvement of the temporal contrast, while a selected team explores strategies for post-compression of multi-cycle pulses, aiming for transform-limited single cycle pulses. These advances will additionally be exploited during the development of novel lasers in the Mid-IR through conventional and optical parametric chirped pulse amplification OPCPA. Using novel laser media the goal is to increase the energy and repetition rate of laser pulses in the Mid-IR at wavelengths up to 10 µm, while keeping a few-cycle duration. This will allow for a number of new high peak power laser applications that are only possible at longer wavelengths.

Objective 2 - Advanced secondary beam sources: High-power lasers societal impact largely stems from their conversion to ultra-short and ultra-bright sources of radiation and particles with energies that would otherwise require large scale accelerators. We will focus on the generation of diffraction-limited XUV pulses from high harmonic generation, with the goal to characterize and control the wavefront, increase the energy per pulse while keeping the attosecond pulse duration. Sources of relativistic electrons from laser-plasma interactions will be developed, in conjunction with the previous objective, to enhance the interaction thanks to feedback systems from advanced laser characterization devices. High brightness X-rays from betatron radiation will also be optimised and tested for spectroscopic applications. Ion sources will be optimized for applications. Finally, throughout this work, particle-in-cell (PIC) codes will support the description of realistic interaction parameters by guiding the experiments, while an effort on the standardization of inputs/outputs from the codes will benefit the whole community.

Objective 3 - Workstations for advanced applications (X-rays and particle beams): We will set up novel collaborative facilities for the development of selected applications, which will benefit from the metrology advances and source control developed throughout the whole JRA. First, a highly successful application in radiobiology, demonstrated in LASERLAB-EUROPE, will be explored systematically in the laser plasma accelerator facilities of the consortium. Dedicated stations for phase-contrast x-ray imaging will be set up, with joint developments in phase contrast techniques and novel high-resolution detectors, with applications in low-dose imaging. Finally, XAFS spectroscopy stations will be set up throughout the consortium, for time-resolved atomic studies of material properties.

ALTIS

Objectives: Laser technology plays a pivotal role in the detection, characterization and imaging of a variety of samples. In the JRA ALTIS, LASERLAB-EUROPE addresses the needs of new and innovative workstations, methodologies and platforms for advanced imaging and spectroscopy in, for example biomedicine, bio- and nano-materials and environmental science. This JRA is based on four interconnected and strategic objectives, where 20 partners jointly pursue, in total, nine focused tasks.

Objective 1 - Advanced Nano, Microscopic Imaging and Spectroscopy aims at developing imaging techniques to expand the current tools and techniques available for the detection, characterization and imaging of biological samples at length scales ranging from the single molecule (nanometers) to single cells or small cell populations (microns). Single molecule fluorescence and super-resolution techniques will be complemented with manipulation methods to directly probe the effect of different biophysical stimuli. Label-free techniques will be expanded to allow observation and quantitative assessment of living systems with minimal perturbation.

Objective 2 - Advanced Meso- and Macroscopic Imaging and Spectroscopy aims at workstations and methods for the analysis of large biological samples, from tissues to whole organs and animals. The goal is to improve techniques such as light-sheet microscopy and optical projection tomography in terms of spatial and temporal resolution, to allow fast single-cell resolution imaging and probing rapid signalling in living samples. Within this objective, the partners will address the challenge to translate laser-based techniques to the clinics.

Objective 3 - Ultrafast Spectroscopy from THz to XUV develops ultrafast, pump-probe instrumentation and techniques covering a very broad range of frequencies on the attosecond to femtosecond timescale. Electronic and vibrational coherent multidimensional spectroscopy provide new and fundamental insights into the structure and dynamics of complex molecular systems, materials and energy relaxation pathways. The partners will tackle the challenge of handling large data volumes in order to bring a suite of 2D spectroscopies to LASERLAB-EUROPE Users. Workstations for spatially or angularly resolved attosecond spectroscopy will be based on complementary approaches to XUV high-resolution photoionization spectroscopy where methods to measure both angular and spatial distribution of emitted electrons and ions will be developed. Setups for condensed matter spectroscopy in the XUV will be developed, to widen the range of samples that can be studied; 2D materials, heterostructures, topological insulators, superconductors, semiconductors, metals and dielectrics.

Objective 4 - Advanced spectroscopic methods for atmospheric pollutants and microplastics will address the issue of air and water pollution becoming an increasing concern. Accurate scientific methods to evaluate the impact of polluting gases, metals and microplastics are needed if we are to both understand and educate on their impact to environment, climate, ecosystems and food chains. This objective brings together LASERLAB-EUROPE partners who are currently developing different, but complementary, laser spectroscopic techniques applied to this field. The activity involves sharing of knowledge and techniques inter-comparison and calibration between partners for validation and optimization of techniques.