Creating pair plasmas with observable collective effects

Kenan Qu, Sebastian Meuren, Nathaniel J. Fisch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Although existing technology cannot yet directly produce fields at the Schwinger level, experimental facilities can already explore strong-field quantum electrodynamics (QED) phenomena by taking advantage of the Lorentz boost of energetic electron beams. Recent studies show that QED cascades can create electron-positron pairs at sufficiently high density to exhibit collective plasma effects. Signatures of collective pair plasma effects can appear in exquisite detail through plasma-induced frequency upshifts and chirps in the laser spectrum. Maximizing the magnitude of the QED plasma signature demands high pair density and low pair energy, which suits the configuration of colliding an over 10 18 J m − 3 energy-density electron beam with a 1022- 10 23 W c m − 2 intensity laser pulse. The collision creates pairs that have a large plasma frequency, made even larger as they slow down or reverse direction due to both the radiation reaction and laser pressure. This paper explains at a tutorial level the key properties of the QED cascades and laser frequency upshift, and at the same time finds the minimum parameters that can be used to produce observable QED plasma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number034007
JournalPlasma Physics and Controlled Fusion
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Nuclear Energy and Engineering
  • Condensed Matter Physics


  • electron-positron pairs
  • laser frequency upshift
  • plasmas
  • quantum electrodynamics
  • ultra-intense laser


Dive into the research topics of 'Creating pair plasmas with observable collective effects'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this