The research is focused on the experimental and theoretical study of high-temperature dense plasma generated by high-power, high-energy laser beams reaching intensities up to 3x1016 W/cm2 in the focus. The research programme covers two main topics:
- inertial confinement fusion
- charged particle interaction with matter at extreme conditions (plasma, warm or hot dense matter, etc.)
The main scope of the inertial fusion research represents the study of the high-power laser pulse interaction with a solid target and expanding corona plasma including the temporal evolution of laser-plasma instabilities (as e.g. two plasmon decay, stimulated Raman scattering), the generation of strong compressing shock waves and their dynamics (for low and high convergence ratio ignition), laser beam imprint effect mitigation (laser beam smoothing, foam layered targets), Rayleigh-Taylor and Richtmyer-Meshkov instabilities, etc.
The interaction of charged particles with plasma is also closely related to the inertial confinement fusion research. The knowledge of the stopping power of electrons, fusion reactants (protons, deuterons, tritons, etc.), and fusion products (alpha particles, etc.) in plasma is crucial both for the fuel pellet design to obtain the high fusion reaction yield and burn wave maintaining and also for determination of the equation of state for matter at extreme conditions,being important for stellar and planetary models, etc.
The major part of the experimental research is carried out at a unique terawatt, kJ-class iodine laser system, one of the largest in Europe, known since 2000 as the Prague Asterix Laser System (PALS)
, of which IPP is the main operator. The PALS laser system is simultaneously a key experimental facility of the PALS Center, a joint research center of the Institute of Plasma Physics and the Institute of Physics. Moreover, PALS is a founding member of the LASERLAB-EUROPE Consortium
, providing open access to European and non-European research teams. A part of the research programme of the Laser Plasma Department is realized within inertial confinement fusion activities of EUROfusion Consortium coordinating Euratom fusion research.