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Lasers: promising applications for research and beyond

3 episodes
  • 1
    How to achieve deeper treatment of tumours with laser-plasma acceleration
  • 2
    Using X-rays to test materials without damaging them
  • 3
    Lightning rods and antennas: applications of laser filamentation
Épisode 1/3
Isabelle Dumé, Science journalist
On June 29th, 2022
5 mins reading time
Alessandro Flacco
Alessandro Flacco
Associate professor at ENSTA Paris (IP Paris)

Key takeaways

  • Laser-plasma accelerators propel high-energy particles over short distances using intense, ultra-short pulses of laser light.
  • Ionising radiation is used in medicine for many purposes: from imaging to diagnosis and treatment of cancers.
  • In radiotherapy the toxicity of ionising radiation on living organisms is used, taking advantage of the different capacity to repair the damage caused to tumour cells and those caused to surrounding healthy cells.
  • Studies have also begun on VHEE (“very high energy electrons”), which theoretically allow a more complete and deeper treatment of tumours.
Épisode 2/3
Isabelle Dumé, Science journalist
On June 29th, 2022
4 mins reading time
Cédric Thaury
Cédric Thaury
Research Fellow at LOA* at ENSTA Paris (IP Paris)

Key takeaways

  •  The Applied Optics Laboratory and its spin-off company, SourceLab, are developing a device for using laser-generated plasmas for non-destructive testing of materials by X-ray.
  • Wake plasma accelerators’ have emerged as a promising alternative. These devices use a pulse of energy to create an electric field wave in a plasma.
  • One of the first applications of these plasma accelerators would be in radiography. The precision of these lasers is such that they can probe an object to the nearest 100 microns.
  • The challenge is all the greater because it is a question of penetrating materials and not human bodies. So more power is needed to achieve incredible accuracy.
Épisode 3/3
Isabelle Dumé, Science journalist
On June 29th, 2022
4 mins reading time
Aurélien Houard
Aurélien Houard
Researcher at LOA* at ENSTA Paris (IP Paris)

Key takeaways

  • The phenomenon of laser filamentation has several applications such as laser booms, lightning rods, and antennas.
  • The idea of the latter is to replace metallic conductors, which are quite large, with plasma conductors produced with these femtosecond filaments.
  • For the lightning rod it is a matter of making a very long filament capable of guiding the lightning, and possibly triggering it before the storm cloud arrives near a sensitive site, such as an airport.
  • This laser effect works well in the laboratory, and scientists are working to improve its effectiveness at greater distances in air at atmospheric pressure.

Contributors

Isabelle Dumé

Isabelle Dumé

Science journalist

Isabelle Dumé holds a PhD in physics. She collaborates with various scientific magazines and media, public and private institutions, and actors in higher education and research in France and worldwide.