Laser–Plasma Physics logo

Empowering revolutionary physics and technology through
the discovery and control of laser-plasma interactions

For more information about our research or student opportunities contact John Palastro or any other scientist in the group.


Have you ever wondered what happens when you shine an extremely powerful laser pulse on something? So have we, and sometimes we can even explain it! The Laser-Plasma Physics group develops mathematical models and simulations to understand one of the most fundamental interactions in physics—the interaction of light with matter. The study of these interactions, however, is not an end to itself—each is motivated by critical applications in energy, defense, basic science, and medicine: nuclear fusion which could deliver an almost endless supply of power with relatively low environmental impact, directed energy which could remotely power vehicles or provide missile and drone defense for ground, naval, or space targets, advanced laser-driven particle accelerators that promise to miniaturize conventional solid-state accelerators, and table-top radiation sources covering the entire electromagnetic spectrum that could provide widely accessible material probes and drivers.

two laser beams crossing energy in a plasma

Inertial confinement fusion

  • Parametric instabilities
  • Wave-particle interactions
  • Nonlinear laser absorption
  • Instability mitigation
Nonlinear Thomson scattering with ponderomotive control

Plasma accelerators and radiation sources

  • Laser wakefield acceleration
  • Direct laser acceleration
  • Laser-plasma betatrons
  • Nonlinear Thomson scattering
  • THz generation
  • Photon acceleration
achromatic flying focus optical configuration

Spatiotemporal pulse shaping

  • Far-field shaping and control
  • Arbitrary velocity intensity peaks
  • Extended range of high intensity
nonlinear laser beam propagation

Nonlinear laser pulse propagation

  • Self-focusing and filamentation
  • Supercontinuum generation
  • Propagation through turbulence
  • Nonlinear birefringence
laser absorption by SRS
laser beam propagation
flying focus
electro-static turbulence driven by TPD
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