Plasma Photonics: Exploring the Exciting Frontier of Manipulating Light

July 27, 2023

Plasma Photonics is a field of research that investigates the interaction between light and plasma, a special state of matter that is made up of ionized particles. Plasma is all around us, from the sun to plasma TVs, and it has unique properties that make it ideal for various applications, including particle acceleration. Caterina Riconda from the Sorbonne in Paris and Jonathan Wurtele from UC Berkeley (FBF 2022) shared their insights into this fascinating field and what drew them to it. 

Riconda initially became interested in the topic while working on fusion, where lasers play a critical role. As lasers become more intense, optical elements alone may not be sufficient to manipulate light, leading her to explore other ways to achieve this. Wurtele, on the other hand, was initially drawn to particle beam physics and became intrigued by the idea of using lasers to manipulate plasma. The two researchers first met when Riconda was a PhD student of Wurtele's, and their partnership began after discussing their mutual interest in Plasma Photonics at a conference. 

The France-Berkeley Fund (FBF) program played a significant role in their research, providing them with the resources and support to pursue their work. Without the FBF, they note that they would not have been able to conduct the research they are currently engaged in. Their research focuses on the manipulation of light through plasma, exploring ways to overcome the limitations of optical elements when lasers become more intense. One of the key advantages of plasma is that it is already a destroyed state of matter, making it ideal for various applications. In addition, plasma can be used for particle acceleration, further expanding its potential applications. Riconda and Wurtele are excited about the upcoming conferences they will be attending, including one in Paris and another in Berkeley, where they will present their findings and collaborate with other researchers in the field. 

In terms of future steps, they plan to support a post-doc student to work with them and continue to push the boundaries of Plasma Photonics research. Together, they are now making significant contributions to the exciting field of Plasma Photonics and are excited about what the future holds for this rapidly evolving field.