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PHELIX laser facility

technical contact: Vincent Bagnoud


The Petawatt High-Energy Laser for Heavy Ion EXperiments (PHELIX) is a versatile laser facility delivering intense laser beams with energies up to 1 kJoule or likewise powers > 500 TW. PHELIX is a flashlamp-pumped Nd:glass system employing two frontends, a pre amplifier and a main amplifier. It was built in close cooperation with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) in the US and the Commissariat à l'Energie Atomique (CEA) in France.

Schematic overview of the PHELIX laser system.

PHELIX serves three experimental areas: At the Z6 experimental area the worldwide unique combination of intense laser radiation with heavy ion beams generated at GSI’s accelerator facility (UNILAC) opens the door for interesting experiments in the field of plasma physics, nuclear physics and atomic physics. In addition, stand-alone experiments with intense laser beams can be carried out for studies such as proton acceleration or X-ray laser generation. For moderate beam intensities up to 10 TW an additional pulse compressor and target chamber are available.

For the generation of extreme laser intensities of > 1020 W/cm² the chirped pulse amplification scheme (CPA) is used where a sub-picosecond laser pulse is stretched in time, amplified and recompressed afterwards. High energy beams are generated by the nanosecond frontend, which delivers arbitrary pulse shapes and pulse durations between 1 and 15 ns.

Laser parameters:

long pulse short pulse
Pulse duration: 0.7-20 ns 0.5-20 ps
energy: 0.3-1 kJ up to 200 J
Max. Intensity: 1016 W/cm2 2 1021 W/cm2
Contrast: 50 dB down to 120 dB

Scientific output

PHELIX is being used to explore various fields of science mostly related to plasma physics and atomic physics. Visit the PHELIX Publication page for more information and the latest scientific publications based on data gathered at PHELIX.