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.
Aurélien Houard, Researcher at LOA* at ENSTA Paris (IP Paris)
On March 15th, 2023
5 min reading time
Researcher at LOA* at ENSTA Paris (IP Paris)
Lightning strikes cause between 6,000 and 24,000 victims each year worldwide.
Lightning rods are used to protect against lightning strikes, but they have several shortcomings: limited coverage, electromagnetic interference, or power surges.
The Laser Lightning Rod (LLR) project aims to use lasers to deflect lightning strikes.
The LLR uses laser technology capable of producing ultrashort, intense laser pulses at a rate of 1,000 shots per second.
While a laser beam can deflect lightning, the protection provided needs to be as optimal as possible.
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.
Aurélien Houard's research activities focus on the study of femtosecond laser filamentation and on the applications of laser filaments such as the generation of THz radiation or remote UV laser emission, laser aerodynamic control, acoustic wave generation or the triggering and guiding of electric arcs by laser. His work on the “generation of THz radiation by laser filamentation in the air” received the École Polytechnique thesis prize. Hired as a researcher at the Applied Optics Laboratory* (a joint research unit (UMR) of CNRS / École Polytechnique / ENSTA Paris), he became head of the “Laser-Matter Interaction" team and obtained his Habilitation to direct research. He is also author or co-author of 87 papers in international peer-reviewed journals and has given 25 invited conference presentations. He is currently the coordinator of a major European project to develop a laser lightning conductor in collaboration with the University of Geneva, EPFL and Ariane Group.