Intense lasers for new societal applications

May 13-17, 2024

Call for Applications December 1, 2023 – January 31, 2024 via the VIU website

The Graduate Seminar is led by:
– University of Bordeaux, France
– National Research Council of Italy (CNR)
– Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, München

Since the invention of the laser in 1960, many big laser systems have been built to exploit the capability of light pulses to strongly focus large amounts of energy into narrow space regions (micrometric) and short time intervals (nanoseconds i.e 10-9 seconds). The biggest of such systems (National Ignition Facility, USA) enabled to create in the laboratory the extreme conditions found inside stars and in 2022 led to the first ignition of a thermonuclear fusion reaction with net energy gain, opening new perspectives for the unlimited production of clean energy. But laser systems can be very compact and yet deliver enormous power (>terawatt=1012 W,) in pulses of ultra-short duration (<1 picosecond =10-12 seconds), thanks to the technique invented by the two 2018 Nobel laureates in Physics, Gerard Mourou and Donna Strickland. Ultrashort, intense lasers opened up several new fields of applications. These latter include attosecond science,
based on converting the laser pulses (via nonlinear atomic or electronic processes) in even shorter pulses of ultraviolet- and X-rays down the scale of the attosecond (10-18 seconds). The techniques recognized with the Nobel Prize 2023 to Pierre Agostini, Ferenc Krausz, Anne l’Huillier now allow atomic and molecular processes to be studied and controlled on their typical temporal scale, opening up new perspectives in chemistry and in the understanding of biomolecular processes. Another prominent application is laser-plasma particle acceleration which allows to generate pulses of high energy ions, electrons and secondary radiation over a length scale 1000 times smaller than “conventional” radiofrequency-based particle accelerators, such as LHC at CERN in Geneva. Besides
potential economic benefits through compactness, laser-plasma particle accelerators feature unique characteristics, such as very high fluxes of particles produced in a very short time of the order of the laser pulse duration. The investigation of laser-accelerated particle beams and their use is currently challenging many research laboratories worldwide, in particular for its manifold applications. In the biomedical field, the recent indications for the enhanced radiobiological efficiency of very high doses delivered in ultrashort times (“FLASH” effect) further motivates the application of laser-driven accelerators.

Andrea Macchi, CNR-National Institute of Optics
Emmanuel d’Humieres, University of Bordeaux
Joerg Schreiber, Ludwig-Maximilan University
Inka Manek-Hönninger, University of Bordeaux
Emanuela Reale, CNR-Institute for Research on Sustainable Economic Growth
Elisabetta Baldanzi, CNR-National Institute of Optics
Caterina Vozzi, CNR- Institute for Photonics and Nanotechnologies
Katia Parodi, Ludwig-Maximilan University
Joao Santos, University of Bordeaux
Pier Luigi Mazzeo, CNR – Institute of Applied Sciences and Intelligent Systems

Guest speakers
Patrizio Antici, Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique, Québec
Anne Hildenbrand-Dhollande, ISL French-German Research Institute of Saint-Louis

The program will provide the basics of intense laser-matter interactions on which scientific and societal applications are built. Specific topics will include laser technology, attosecond science, laser-plasma accelerators, and high energy density physics of relevance for fusion energy production and astrophysics. Lectures will cover both potential long-term applications and mid-term ones doable with current technology.
The inclusion of transversal skills lectures comes from the need of providing PhD students with a solid background on additional skills that are currently required by the labour-market (either at academia, industry or research).

Who can apply?
This international PhD Academy is offered to PhD students, post-docs and young researchers with background in Sciences, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Health Sciences, Materials Sciences, Cultural Heritage, and Astrophysics. Open to candidates from all the VIU Member Institutions; applications from excellent candidates from non-member institutions will be also considered and evaluated.

Fees & grant support
Students from the VIU member institutions will pay no participation fees. Grant support is also available to support, partially or fully, the costs of international travel; accommodation on campus, in shared rooms, will be offered.
External candidates admitted to the PhD Academy will pay fees (further information available in the brochure). VIU Alumni are eligible for a reduced fee.

Applicants must submit the (1) application form, (2) a letter of motivation – which should include a short bio and a brief description of the candidate’s research project, (3) a curriculum vitae, and (4) a photo.

For further information please download the brochure and the program or write to:




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