In addition to its primary mission of fusion energy research, the HiPER Facility will unlock the potential to undertake world class research in many fields of physics. Depending upon the funding mechanism, HiPER can also provide a very significant science facility for Europe which can be supported by existing national laser facilities.
The scope of HiPER for fundamental science could include:
Physics under Extreme Conditions
Investigating the fundamental properties of matter in extreme states. This includes studies in Gigagauss magnetic fields (otherwise only found in highly compact stellar objects whose magnetic field dominates the electric field in determining sub-atomic motion), in Gigabar pressure regimes, within radiatively dominated systems and in burning plasmas.
The fusion and high energy-density potential of HiPER offers the possibility of replicating many astrophysical phenomena in the laboratory. These include evolution of supernovae, proto-stellar jets, planetary nebulae, interacting binary systems, cosmic ray seeding and acceleration and gamma-ray bursters.
HiPER will produce in excess of 1019 fast neutrons, permitting exploitation of these highly intensely high fluxes in nuclear physics experiments. Such possibilities include measuring the reaction rate of short-lived isotopes – key knowledge for determining the balance and production of heavy elements in the universe.
The high energy short pulse capability of the HiPER facility may be augmented using the latest pulse compression techniques to achieve extremely high energy densities, permitting acceleration of protons with energies of ~60MeV and heavy ions of ~500MeV. In such regimes electrons can achieve energies of up to ~1GeV, three to five orders of magnitude greater that what is available on the most powerful lasers today.
A laser source capable of the energy designed for HiPER could facilitate experiments in opacity and photo-ionisation physics as well as high energy density physics and the study of warm dense matter – all deepening our understanding of the laws of physics.