Quantum electrodynamics experiments with colliding petawatt laser pulses

I. C.E. Turcu*, B. Shen, D. Neely, G. Sarri, K. A. Tanaka, P. McKenna, S. P.D. Mangles, T. P. Yu, W. Luo, X. L. Zhu, Y. Yin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
242 Downloads (Pure)


A new generation of high power laser facilities will provide laser pulses with extremely high powers of 10 petawatt (PW) and even 100 PW, capable of reaching intensities of 1023 W/cm2 in the laser focus. These ultra-high intensities are nevertheless lower than the Schwinger intensity IS=2.3×1029 W/cm2 at which the theory of quantum electrodynamics (QED) predicts that a large part of the energy of the laser photons will be transformed to hard Gamma-ray photons and even to matter, via electron–positron pair production. To enable the investigation of this physics at the intensities achievable with the next generation of high power laser facilities, an approach involving the interaction of two colliding PW laser pulses is being adopted. Theoretical simulations predict strong QED effects with colliding laser pulses of ⩾10 PW focused to intensities ⩾1022 W/cm2 .

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere10
Number of pages8
JournalHigh Power Laser Science and Engineering
Early online date14 Feb 2019
Publication statusEarly online date - 14 Feb 2019


  • colliding petawatt laser pulses
  • electron-positron pairs creation
  • nonlinear Breit-Wheeler process
  • petawatt laser facilities
  • quantum electrodynamics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics
  • Nuclear Energy and Engineering


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