Annual High Power Laser Meeting 2021
14 Jan 2022
- Helen Towrie



Despite last minute changes due to the omicron variant, the High Power Laser (HPL) Christmas conference still went ahead on the 13th-15th December 2021 at Abingdon School.


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(Group Photo in the Ame​y Theatre of HPL attendees)

Dr Alex Robinson and the team worked incredibly hard to move with last minute changes and managed to successfully set up HPL's first ever hybrid conference with the option to attend in-person or virtually.

As usual, the conference consisted of a series of talks, dotted between networking session and poster sessions. We find it important to hear talks from everyone, from senior scientists to undergrads, so that new perspectives, discussions and questions can be shared within this ever-changing academic field. In a mixture of in-person and virtual seminars, the wide range of speakers covered topics from laser driven acceleration, to inertial confinement fusion, to X-rays and more.

Day 1 started with an introduction from Director of the CLF Prof. John Collier. He recapped the strange year we all had and the measures the CLF took to keep operations going, as well as gave updates on EPAC building and the Vulcan upgrade.

Following this was a series of talks on QED (Quantum Electrodynamics) and HEDLA (High Energy Density Laboratory Astrophysics) kicked off by Jonathan Beesley (Imperial College London) with an insightful look into The Schwinger Effect in a Black-Body Field. More talks followed covering topics such as machine learning to help optimise laser acceleration, and LUXE (Laser Und XFEL Experiment), a collaboration between over 20 institutions which aims to use a high-intensity laser and the EU-EXFEL to explore less studies areas of strong-field QED.

The day was drawn to a close with the CLF's own Dr Chris Armstrong, who gave a talk about active detectors.

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(Alex Robinson hosting)

The morning of the second day of the conference focused on Inertial Confinement Fusion. William Trickey, from the Laboratory for Laser Energetics at the University of Rochester gave an informative presentation about the stability of dynamic shell targets. That was followed by Professor Jerry Chittenden (Imperial) spending an hour walking us through every aspect of ICF, from its conception through to present day innovations, including recent work at NIF.

After the traditional group photo, the afternoon session heard from speakers from Imperial, QUB, and Oxford talking about Ion Acceleration, CMP and WDM, before an outstanding collection of student posters were presented in the Yang Science Centre.

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(Pictures from the poster session)

Later, the winners of the Best Student Poster Competition were announced. We would like to give a huge congratulations to:

Winner: Jessel Patel – University of Strathclyde

Second Place: Emma Hume – University  of York

Third Place: Harry Jones – University of Strathclyde​

On the final day of the conference, we heard all about ​Wakefield Acceleration, QED and X-rays, followed by a series of talks on the breadth of science currently being conducted at the CLF. This included such topics as the latest updated from DiPOLE, our laser fusion research, and our advances in Target Fabrication. Dr Kathryn Welsby gave an introduction to our new Industrial Partnerships and Innovation (IPI) group which is helping to boost awareness of the CLF's incredible science to a range of audiences.

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(attendee asking a question during the talks)

The conference was closed with a final networking session.

We hope that all who attended – virtual or in person – had an enjoyable time networking, learning and sharing the latest in high power lasers. We hope to see you next year!

Contact: Towrie, Helen (STFC,RAL,CLF)