- Conference date: 16–21 October 2009
- Location: Brasov (Romania)
The ultra‐high fields of high‐power short‐pulse lasers are expected to contribute to understanding fundamental properties of the quantum vacuum and quantum theory in very strong fields. For example, the neutral QED vacuum breaks down at the Schwinger field strength of where a virtual pair gains its rest mass energy over a Compton wavelength and materializes as a real pair. At such an ultra‐high field strength, an electron experiences an acceleration of and hence fundamental phenomena such as the long predicted Unruh effect start to play a role. The Unruh effect implies that the accelerated electron experiences the vacuum as a thermal bath with the Unruh temperature. In its accelerated frame the electron scatters photons off the thermal bath, corresponding to the emission of an entangled pair of photons in the laboratory frame. In upcoming experiments with intense accelerating fields, we will encounter a set of opportunities to experimentally study the radiation from electrons under extreme fields. Even before the Unruh radiation detection, we should run into the copious Larmor radiation. The detection of Larmor radiation and its characterization themselves have never been experimentally carried out to the best of our knowledge, and thus this amounts to a first serious study of physics at extreme acceleration. For example, we can study radiation damping effects like the Landau‐Lifshitz radiation. Furthermore, the experiment should be able to confirm or disprove whether the Larmor and Landau‐Lifshitz radiation components may be enhanced by a collective radiation, if a tightly clumped cluster of electrons is accelerated. The technique of laser driven dense electron sheet formation by irradiating a thin DLC foil target should provide such a coherent electron cluster with a very high density. If and when such mildly relativistic electron sheets are realized, a counterpropagating second laser can interact with them coherently. Under these conditions enhanced Larmor and Unruh radiation signals may be observed.
Detection of the Unruh photons (together with its competing radiation components) is envisaged via Compton polarimetry in a novel highly granular 2D‐segmented position‐sensitive germanium detector.
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