The Extreme Light Infrastructure: Optics’ Next Horizon

Gérard Mourou and Toshiki Tajima

The Extreme Light Infrastructure—a project involving nearly 40 research and academic institutions from 13 EU member countries—will allow researchers to probe laser-matter interaction at unprecedented intensity levels.


figureAttosecond Light Pulse Source, Szeged, Hungary

For almost as long as the laser has been in existence, researchers have been striving to construct large-scale infrastructures that could demonstrate laser-produced thermonuclear fusion. This scientific pursuit culminated with the construction of the National Ignition Facility (NIF) at Livermore, Calif., U.S.A., and the Laser Megajoule (LMJ) in France. Both facilities deliver megajoule pulses in a few nanoseconds, corresponding to a peak power of 0.5 PW.

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