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.
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.
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.