Making pions with laser light

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    • W Schumaker
    • T Liang
    • R Clarke
    • J M Cole
    • G Grittani
    • S. Kuschel
    • S P D Mangles
    • Z. Najmudin
    • K. Poder
    • G Sarri
    • D Symes
    • A G R Thomas
    • M. Vargas
    • M Zepf
    • K. Krushelnick

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    The interaction of high intensity short pulse laser beams with plasmas can accelerate electrons to energies in excess of a GeV. These electron beams can subsequently be used to generate short-lived particles such as positrons, muons, and pions. In recent experiments, we have made the first measurements of pion production using 'all optical' methods. In particular, we have demonstrated that the interaction of bremsstrahlung generated by laser driven electron beams with aluminum atoms can produce the long lived isotope of magnesium (27Mg) which is a signature for pion (π +) production and subsequent muon decay. Using a 300 TW laser pulse, we have measured the generation of 150 ± 50 pions per shot. We also show that the energetic electron beam is a source of an intense, highly directional neutron beam resulting from (γ, n) reactions which contributes to the 27Mg measurement as background via the (n, p) process.


    • Making pions with laser light

      Rights statement: Copyright 2018 the authors. This is an open access article published under a Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the author and source are cited.

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    Original languageEnglish
    Article number073008
    Number of pages6
    JournalNew Journal of Physics
    Journal publication date04 Jul 2018
    Publication statusPublished - 04 Jul 2018

    ID: 156184109