Colloquia & Guest Speakers

How Relativistic Photonics Enables Compact Accelerators, X-ray Sources and Tests of Quantum Gravity

Bjorn Manuel Hegelich, Associate Professor, University of Texas at Austin, leading the research group for Relativistic Quantum Photonics; Founder and CEO of TAU Systems Inc.

Monday, April 24, 2023
3:30 p.m.

Presented in-person in Goergen 101 and on Zoom

Zoom Information

Meeting ID: 952 7674 7247
Passcode: 964579


Accelerator-driven physics, from applied sciences studied at synchrotron and FEL light sources to fundamental physics studied at large colliders, have the potential to undergo a transformation to a more compact single lab scale much like computers of the 1950s. This transformation will unleash a wealth of new applications in advanced semiconductors, medical and pharmaceutical science, batteries and other energy technology, fusion science and even the understanding of strongfield quantum field theories and quantum gravity. Today, the experimental infrastructure for these experiments consists of campus-scale national laboratory complexes. With the invention of chirped pulse amplification by Gerard Mourou and Donna Strickland here at the University of Rochester, it has become possible to create relativistic laser pulses to accelerate particles with much stronger fields on much shorter scales, which will bring about the reduction in size, power, and cost of these large facilities and enable vast new compact applications. This talk will cover our latest results in the realization of compact, laser-driven particle acceleration, including the demonstration of record electron energies beyond 10 GeV from 10cm short, laser-wakefield-accelerator. The talk will discuss the potential of these accelerators to drive compact x-ray free electron lasers, shrinking these state-of-the-art ~km long facilities to room size, give examples of applications as well as outline our theoretical work on using these systems to test quantum gravity by measuring deviations from QED predictions due to Hawking-Unruh radiation.


Headshot of Bjorn Manuel Hegelich.
Bjorn Manuel Hegelich

Professor B. M. Hegelich is the founder and CEO of TAU Systems Inc. and an Associate Professor at the University of Texas at Austin, leading the research group for Relativistic Quantum Photonics. His includes laser-driven particle and photon sources, quantum effects in intense fields, relativistic laser-matter interaction, fusion research, high energy density physics, and ultrahigh intensity laser technology. He served as the Associate Director of the Center for Relativistic Laser Science, Institute of Basic Sciences, the world’s first multi-PW laser and Full Professor at the Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology. He was a scientist and Team Leader at Los Alamos National Laboratory, where he led the Trident Ultrahigh Intensity experiments. From 2008-2010 he was appointed Visiting Professor for ”Relativistic Laser Particle Acceleration for Nuclear Physics and Medicine” and Fellow at the Center for Advanced studies at the Ludwig-Maximilian-University München (LMU). Dr. Hegelich graduated from Napier University Edinburgh and Georg-August-University Göttingen. He obtained his doctorate at LMU München and the Max-Planck-Institute for Quantum Optics, pioneering ion acceleration with ultrahigh intensity lasers. His accomplishments include the first demonstration of of mono-energetic laser-ion acceleration, the first demonstration of ion acceleration in Transparent Overdense Plasmas and the development of the highest contrast laser. He co-authored over 140 peer-reviewed publications with more than 9000 citations. In 2021 he co-founded Tau Systems Inc., an Austin, TX based Deep Tech company, developing and commercializing laser-driver particle accelerators and the first laser-driven X-ray Free Electron Laser (L-XFEL).