Facilities' Highlights

The capabilities of the installations offered for Access by LASERLAB-EUROPE can be illustrated by the quality of their scientific output. A few recent examples (2017-2019) are:

Life sciences (biology, medicine, …)

  • Modulating immune responses using monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) is a promising approach to cancer therapy. Using microscopy techniques at the CLF’s OCTOPUS facility, researchers studied the effects of a custom-designed antibody molecule that targets the Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor, a molecule associated with a number of cancer types. [Nature Commun. 9, 4809 (2018)].
  • A new Phase-Retrieved Tomography (PRT) method has been developed at FORTH to radically improve mesoscopic imaging and achieve high and uniform resolution throughout the volume of opaque samples and demonstrate the methods capability to image tumor spheroids and study cancer behavior and response to chemotherapy [Sci. Reports 7, 11854 (2017)].
  • A miniaturized pulsed laser source for time-domain diffuse optics routes to wearable devices was validated at POLIMI; the system demonstrated to be able to detect hemodynamic changes occurring in the arm of healthy volunteers during a venous occlusion [J. Biomed. Opt. 22, 085004 (2017)].
  • The utility of diffuse optics for clinical neuromonitoring was demonstrated at ICFO [PlosOne 13, e0194204 (2018)].

Environmental sciences

  • The chemistry of reactive intermediates that are of relevance in combustion processes and in atmospheric chemistry was investigated at FELIX and an efficient pathway from the benzyl radical to phenanthrene was demonstrated in one bimolecular step only [Chemistry-A Eur. J. 24, 7647 (2018)].

Material sciences & novel machining techniques

  • Well-defined hollow rectangular micelles, produced by means of seeded-growth methods and potentially functionalized, were characterised using super-resolution microscopy on the CLF’s OCTOPUS facility [Science 352, 697 (2016)].
  • At SLIC, simultaneous time-and-space resolved reflectivity and interferometric measurements performed in fused silica and sapphire samples excited with ultrashort laser pulses with energies above the ablation threshold, allowed showing for both materials the signature of strong isochoric heating [Phys. Rev. B 95, 214114 (2017)].
  • Laser-based surface patterning of rutile TiO2 monocrystals was investigated at FORTH. The obtained morphological maps of the characteristic surface morphologies revealed the significant influence of the crystalline anisotropy on the laser-surface interaction process [J. Opt. Soc. Am. B 35, 2600 (2018)].
  • At HiLASE, highly regular laser-induced periodic surface structures were successfully fabricated on surfaces of Mo, steel alloy and Ti at a record processing speed on large areas and with a record regularity in the obtained sub-wavelength structures. This new achievement in the unprecedented level of control over the laser-induced periodic structure formation makes this laser-writing technology to be flexible, robust and, hence, highly competitive for advanced industrial applications based on surface nanostructuring [Sci. Reports 7, 8485 (2017)].
  • 3D micro-structuring was performed at VULRC via two-photon polymerisation of poly (glycerol sebacate)-methacrylate - an elastomeric degradable polymer [Front. Phys. 6, 41 (2018)].

Cultural Heritage


  • Research on CLF/ULTRA has demonstrated a new approach to increasing the faradaic efficiency of dye-sensitised photocathodes for hydrogen evolution from water, of importance for the production of robust, hybrid solar-to-fuel devices [Chem. Sci. 10, 99 (2019)].
  • One of the major challenges in catalysis research nowadays is the development of materials that make methane amenable for chemical conversion into valuable compounds (such as ethane). By employing infrared spectroscopy at FELIX and first‐principles calculations it was shown that tiny gold particles possess an important prerequisite for such a catalyst: in linking to the methane molecule, they selectively break one single C-H bond [Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 56, 13406 (2017)].
  • Organometal halide perovskites in the form of nanocrystals have attracted great attention for light-emitting applications (incl. solar cells). LLC temperature-dependent measurements allowed determining key parameters such as charge and exciton phonon interaction coupling strengths  [J. Phys. Chem. Lett. 9, 4245 (2018)].
  • By applying two-dimensional electronic spectroscopy, ultrafast carrier thermalization in lead iodide perovskite was observed at POLIMI [Nature Commun. 8, 376 (2017)].
  • The rates of ultra-exothermic electron transfers in donor-acceptor systems reveal at CLL that higher activation barriers give faster reactions [Nature Commun. 9, 2903 (2018)].
  • A detailed picture of the isomerization pathway of Donor–Acceptor Stenhouse Adducts has been obtained at LENS on a molecular level [J. Am. Chem. Soc. 139, 15596 (2017)].

Plasma physics & applications to laser fusion and astrophysics

  • The first experimental evidence of radiation reaction in the collision of a relativistic electron with a high intensity laser pulse was produced on the CLF’s GEMINI facility. Such a mechanism can be a dominant effect in extreme astrophysical environments and this work demonstrates that such phenomena can now be studied experimentally in the lab [Phys. Rev. X 8, 031004 (2018)].
  • LULI allowed studying the effects of nonlocal electron transport and radiation diffusion on the evolution of a cylindrical blast wave over several nanoseconds [Appl. Phys. Lett. 112, 264104 (2018)].
  • At GSI, the spatial and temporal distribution of laser-accelerated protons have been used for the first time as diagnostics for the Weibel instability at the rear surface of a solid-density target [New J. Phys. 19, 043010 (2017)].
  • A series of experiments conducted at PALS allowed studying the alternative shock ignition scheme [Nucl. Fusion 59, 032012 2019)].
  • The ion stopping power at low projectile velocities, near the Bragg peak, has been measured at GSI in a laser-generated moderately hot and dense plasma [Nature Commun. 8, 15693 (2017)].

Condensed matter physics

  • Charge carrier dynamics in photocatalytic hybrid semiconductor-metal nanorods shows at POLIMI a crossover from Auger recombination to charge transfer [Nano Lett. 18, 5211 (2018)].
  • 2D excitons were for the first time unravelled in a 2D lattice (of titanium dioxide) at LACUS using 2D deep-UV spectroscopy [Nature Commun. 8, 13 (2017)]
  • Using the FELIX THz radiation, it was possible to manipulate phosphorous atoms within silicon crystals, controlling their shape and size, essentially making them dance, which could be the next breakthrough in the quest to make quantum computers a viable reality [Nature Commun. 8, 16038 (2017)].

Atomic & molecular physics

  • Recoil inversion of the CO (v=0, JCO=66) state was observed at FORTH in the dissociation of lab-frame oriented carbonyl sulfide, showing that stereodynamics measurements from oriented molecules offer an indispensable probe for exploring energy landscapes [Phys. Rev. Lett. 118, 253001 (2017)].
  • LLC has measured photoionization time delays in neon atoms, with an interferometric technique combining high spectral and temporal resolution, allowing to disentangle direct ionization in the 2s state from ionization in the 2p shell with shake up of a second electron [Science 358, 893 (2017)].
  • Researchers measured at CELIA the dynamics of chiral photoionization, revealing delays as short as 14 attoseconds between electrons ejected from a molecule and its mirror image [Science 358, 1288 (2017)].
  • Ultra-precise coherent anti-Stokes Raman scattering experiments were carried out on tritium-containing compounds at LLAMS, revealing relativistic and QED effects [Phys. Rev. Lett. 120, 163002 (2018)].
  • The most accurate experimental determination so far of the binding energy of the Hydrogen molecule has been obtained at LLAMS [Phys. Rev. Lett. 121, 013001 (2018)].
  • A two-color phase-locked beam was used at FERMI to ionize neon and control the asymmetry of the photoelectron angular distribution, with a temporal resolution of 3 as [Nature Photon. 10, 176 (2016)].


  • Attosecond coherent control of free-electron wave functions using semi-infinite light fields was demonstrated at LACUS [Nature Commun. 9, 2694 (2018)].

Technologies, techniques & methods

Primary laser sources

  • In cooperation with the Japanese company Gigaphoton Inc., a novel  femtosecond regenerative Yb:YGAG ceramic slab amplifier has been demonstrated at the HILASE facility; it delivers 405 fs pulses at a wavelength of 1030 nm with a bandwidth limit of 306 fs, 1.1 W of average power, 8 μJ of pulse energy, and a repetition rate of 100 kHz [Opt. Mater. Express 8, 615 (2018)].

Advanced imaging & diagnostics

  • Supported by measurements at LP3, a transformation optics solution has been demonstrated to the challenging nonparaxial problems corresponding to experiments dealing with extreme spatio-temporal localization of high-power laser radiation [Phys. Rev. Lett. 117, 043902 (2016)].
  • An ideal radiation source for plasma spectroscopy generated by laser ablation was revealed at LP3 [Phys. Rev. E 96 (5), 053210 (2017)].
  • A new multicolour frequency-modulated super-resolution methodology was developed at ICFO; it provides simultaneous multicolour images with improved image acquisition time while preserving the full field-of-view of the camera [PNAS 115, 12991 (2018)].
  • It has been demonstrated experimentally at LOA that a Hartmann wavefront sensor for extreme ultraviolet (XUV) wavelengths can be an effective non-contact analytical method for inspecting the surface of multilayer optics, detecting aberrations in the nm range [Appl. Optics 57, 1315 (2018)].
  • MBI demonstrated the feasibility of soft X-ray absorption spectroscopy in the water window using a table-top laser-based approach with organic molecules and inorganic salts in aqueous solution [J. Phys. Chem. Lett. 10, 52 (2019)].

Secondary radiation & particle sources

  • The quasi-circular polarization state of XUV high harmonics generated by bichromatic circularly-polarized laser pulses was fully characterized at SLIC [Nature Commun. 9, 4727 (2018)]
  • The generation of terahertz radiation via ultrashort pulse induced filamentation in liquids was demonstrated at FORTH which opens the doors, thanks to its improved efficiency, for various nonlinear spectroscopic applications. [Nature Commun. 8, 1184 (2017)].
  • Attosecond control over relativistic electron bunches was demonstrated with two-colour fields on the HIJ JETI facility [Nature Photon. 11, 32 (2017)]
  • LOA has demonstrated that relativistic particle accelerators based on laser-produced plasma experiments can be generated from high repetition rate and small energy laser systems by using ultrafast laser beam durations close to the optical cycle of light [Nature Photon. 11, 293 (2017)].
  • A picosecond absolute duration of a laser-driven proton pulse was measured on the HIJ/POLARIS facility thanks to the observation of  the prompt ionization dynamics in a ion-irradiated high-purity glass [Nature Commun. 7, 10642 (2016)].
  • Efficient laser-driven multi-MeV proton acceleration from cryogenic H thick ribbons was demonstrated on the LULI ELFIE facility for the first time, highlighting the potential of such targets for experiments at high repetition rate [Plasma Phys. Control. Fusion 60, 044010 (2018)].
  • An all-optical concept for the transverse  structuring of laser accelerated proton beams was discovered at HZDR [Nat. Commun. 9, 5292 (2018)].
  • Mitigating electromagnetic pulse (EMP) emission without degrading proton generation from solid targets is a challenge that was addressed in CELIA/ECLIPSE, leading successfully to a first efficient low-EMP proton source prototype [Laser & Part. Beams 35, 677 (2017)].