Optics inside one of Gemini's target areas.
“High-power lasers are tools that enable research in many areas of medicine, biology, material sciences, chemistry and physics. Making high-power lasers more widely available would transform the way science is done.
This work significantly advances the state-of-the-art of high-power lasers by proposing new methods for creating optical elements. These are more compact and much more robust than existing optical elements, and also transient, which makes them unique.
The research group are planning for further proof-of-principle experiments to demonstrate the robustness and fidelity of the plasma optical elements. Part of this plan includes a follow-on experiment on Gemini in August 2023 to make 3-dimensional plasma photonic structures."
“This new way of producing transient plasma mirrors could revolutionise accelerators and light sources, as it would make them very compact and capable of producing ultra-short duration ultra-intense pulses of light that are much shorter than can be produced easily by any other means.
Plasma can withstand intensities up to 1018 watts per square centimetre, which exceeds the threshold for damage of conventional optics by four or five orders of magnitude. This will allow the size of the optical elements to be reduced by two or three orders of magnitude, shrinking metre-sized optics to millimetres or centimetres."