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Journal Article

Pair production in counter-propagating laser beams


Kirk,  John G.
Division Prof. Dr. Werner Hofmann, MPI for Nuclear Physics, Max Planck Society;


Arka,  Ioanna
Division Prof. Dr. Werner Hofmann, MPI for Nuclear Physics, Max Planck Society;

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Kirk, J. G., Bell, A. R., & Arka, I. (2009). Pair production in counter-propagating laser beams. Plasma Physics and Controlled Fusion, 51(8): 085008, pp. 1-21. doi:10.1088/0741-3335/51/8/085008.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0011-74E6-A
Based on an analysis of a specific electron trajectory in counter-propagating beams, Bell and Kirk (2008 Phys. Rev. Lett. 101 200403) recently suggested that laboratory lasers may shortly be able to produce significant numbers of electron–positron pairs. We confirm their results using an improved treatment of non-linear Compton scattering in the laser beams. Implementing an algorithm that integrates classical electron trajectories, we then examine a wide range of laser pulse shapes and polarizations. We find that counter-propagating, linearly polarized beams, with either aligned or crossed orientation, are likely to initiate a pair avalanche at intensities of approximately $10^{24}$W cm$^{−2}$ per beam. The same result is found by modelling one of the beams as a wave reflected at the surface of an overdense solid.