Published: 14 January 2014, 09:15 | By: Ira Winkler and Christian Helgert
On January 3, 2014 the European Research Council (ERC) has announced that one of the highly prestigious ERC Consolidator Grants will be awarded to Jun. Prof. Dr. Jens Limpert, hosted by the Institute of Applied Physics (IAP), for his research proposal on "Advanced Coherent Ultrafast Laser Pulse Stacking (ACOPS)". ERC grants are awarded through open competition to projects headed by young and established top researchers who are working in Europe - the sole criterion for selection is scientific excellence.
In particular, ERC Consolidator Grants shall boost the independent careers of such excellent researchers by providing adequate support at the critical stage where they are consolidating their own independent research team or program. Remarkably, this ERC grant on ACOPS exhibits the first time in history that such an ERC funding scheme was awarded twice to a Thuringian scientist - with the very first one, an ERC Starting Grant, being awarded already in 2009 to ACP principal scientist Limpert.
In their project, Limpert and his team target to develop an ultra-short pulse laser system that will boost the evolution of wake-field particle acceleration. A pulsed laser system with high-peak power is envisioned, meeting highest standards in compactness, efficiency, scalability and cost-effectiveness as further essential quality criteria. The interest in such laser architectures is deeply rooted both in fundamental science and potential applications, such as alternative particle collision schemes or highly-directive cancer treatment and medical proton therapies, respectively. However, laser parameters which are several orders of magnitude above current state-of-the-art technology, such as Petawatt peak powers and Megawatt average powers along with reasonable energy balances are required. Particularly in high-field physics, researchers currently face severe issues with regard to the conception and establishment of next-generation particle accelerators. In a few years, these limits could be surpassed by the high-power laser community and led by the ACOPS research project.
With the grant, which is endowed with 1.9 million euros, the consolidation of Limpert's research group "Fiber and Waveguide Lasers" will be funded for 5 years starting from February 1, 2014. Besides the Abbe Center of Photonics, the project involves external expertise in the field of enhancement cavities by cooperating with the group of Dr. Ioachim Pupeza from the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics (MPQ) in Garching, Germany.