A photon-photon collider in a vacuum

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The ability to create matter from light is amongst the most striking predictions of quantum electrodynamics. Experimental signatures of this have been reported in the scattering of ultra-relativistic electron beams with laser beams–plasma interactions and laser-driven solid target scattering. However, all such routes involve massive particles. The simplest mechanism by which pure light can be transformed into matter, Breit–Wheeler pair production (γγ′ right arrow e+e), has never been observed in the laboratory. Here, Steven Rose presents the design of a new class of photon–photon collider in which a gamma-ray beam is fired into the high-temperature radiation field of a laser-heated hohlraum. Steven Rose is the Chair in Plasma Physics at Imperial College London. was the first Director of the Institute of Shock Physics at Imperial College, a position he held until 2011. In 2009 he was appointed the co-Director of the Centre for Inertial Fusion Studies and from October 2011 to December 2014 he was the Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Natural Sciences. In 2015 Professor Rose was also appointed as a Professorial Research Fellow at the University of Oxford.

Image courtesy of the interviewee


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