Dr. rer. nat. Birger Seifert
Millennium Institute for Research in Optics (MIRO), Santiago, Chile
Facultad de Física, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Casilla 306, Santiago 22,
Donna Strickland and Gérard Mourou received the Nobel Prize in physics in 2018 for
their technique called “chirped pulse amplification” (CPA). With this invention they
paved the way towards the most intense laser pulses ever generated by mankind. Today,
CPA is a standard technique for laser pulse amplification. A high-intensity pulsed laser
beam can be considered as a “Tool made of light”. Typical applications are eye surgery
(Lasik), cancer treatment (precise energy deposition with accelerated protons), precise
machining of a wide range of materials, taking pictures of the implosions used to
generate fusion, generation of electron-positron pairs with light, and the generation of
attosecond pulses. The CPA technique is the foundation for the development of
increasingly strong laser pulses reaching 5.3 petawatts (PW) (in 2016), and in the next
few years 10-PW lasers should work in a number of research facilities around the world.
Even higher pulse powers, from 10 PW to 100 PW, are planned for the near future.