Nuclear reactions under extreme temperature and pressure conditions

Nuclear reaction cross sections will be studied in hot plasma, where the presence of ions and clouds of electrons produces screening effects. HiPER will facilitate experiments to benchmark theoretical estimates of screening effects on nuclear reaction rates. It will enable the study of the effects of screening on thermonuclear reactions, important for nuclear burn and for modelling the processes at the centre of stellar environments.


HiPER beams reconfigured for OPCPA will exceed 150 PW with focused laser intensities exceeding 5 x 1024W/cm2. The electric fields at the focus of laser pulses at these intensities exceed 1017 V/m which can directly induce > keV shifts in nuclear levels. HiPER will thus, for the first time, enable experiments on direct nuclear excitation by laser radiation. In addition, the ability to produce synchronised high energy particle and radiation beams from laser-plasma interactions can provide a probe of these ‘dressed’ nuclear states, enabling pump-probe experiments to be performed on the nucleus.