Spotlight on the Center for Intense Lasers and Applications

Two teams of researchers from the Center for Intense Lasers and Applications (CELIA, CNRS unit, CEA and the University of Bordeaux) have been involved in research, the results of which were recently published in Nature Physics and Nature Communications on chiral molecule identification and electron energy transport enhancement.

  • 20/03/2018

When electrons get out of control

Like our hands, some molecules are not superimposable on their mirror image. Identifying these right- or left-handed molecules, known as chiral, is a crucial stage in many chemical and pharmaceutical applications. An international research team (Institut national de la recherche scientifique, INRS-Quebec/Max-Born Institut - Germany/Synchrotron Soleil/CNRS/CEA/University of Bordeaux) has introduced a highly original new method to achieve this.

The researchers induce the movement of the electrons in the molecules in one direction using ultrashort laser pulses, revealing this molecular characteristic. The results of these experiments conducted in Bordeaux at the Center for Intense Lasers and Applications (CELIA, CNRS unit, CEA and the University of Bordeaux) were published in the article entitled Photoexcitation Circular Dichroism in Chiral Molecules in Nature Physics, on February 19, 2018.

Lasers and a magnetic field for unprecedented energy flows in matter

Laboratory studies of matter under extreme density and temperature conditions, such as those prevailing in stars or inside planets, are feasible by means of experiments using high-intensity laser pulses. The interaction of these pulses with dense targets can induce high energy flows towards the interior of the targets, particularly in the form of a relativistic electron beam.
CELIA's researchers, in conjunction with a number of national and international laboratories, recently enhanced the electron energy transport efficiency by 500% by means of a completely new method using an external magnetic field, also laser-generated, with enough strength to guide the electron flow. This research, published in the journal Nature Communications in January 2018 with the title "Guiding of relativistic electron beams in dense matter by laser-driven magnetostatic fields", opens up prospects connected with planetology, astrophysics and even inertial confinement fusion energy generation.