Dr. Christian Kohlfürst
Abstract: Scalar and fermionic particle pair production in rotating electric fields is investigated in the nonperturbative multiphoton regime. Angular momentum distribution functions in above-threshold pair production processes are calculated numerically within quantum kinetic theory and discussed on the basis of a photon absorption model. The particle spectra can be understood if the spin states of the particle-antiparticle pair are taken into account.
Abstract: Our goal is to study optical signatures of quantum vacuum nonlinearities in strong macroscopic electromagnetic fields provided by high-intensity laser beams. The vacuum emission scheme is perfectly suited for this task as it naturally distinguishes between incident laser beams, described as classical electromagnetic fields driving the effect, and emitted signal photons encoding the signature of quantum vacuum nonlinearity. Using the Heisenberg-Euler effective action, our approach allows for a reliable study of photonic signatures of QED vacuum nonlinearity in the parameter regimes accessible by all-optical high-intensity laser experiments. To this end, we employ an efficient, flexible numerical algorithm, which allows for a detailed study of the signal photons emerging in the collision of focused paraxial high-intensity laser pulses. Due to the high accuracy of our numerical solutions we predict the total number of signal photons, but also have full access to the signal photons’ characteristics, including their spectrum, propagation directions and polarizations. We discuss setups offering an excellent background-to-noise ratio, thus providing an important step towards the experimental verification of quantum vacuum nonlinearities.
Abstract: Optical signatures of the effective nonlinear couplings among electromagnetic fields in the quantum vacuum can be conveniently described in terms of stimulated photon emission processes induced by strong classical, space-time dependent electromagnetic fields. Recent studies have adopted this approach to study collisions of Gaussian laser pulses in paraxial approximation. The present study extends these investigations beyond the paraxial approximation by using an efficient numerical solver for the classical input fields. This new numerical code allows for a consistent theoretical description of optical signatures of QED vacuum nonlinearities in generic electromagnetic fields governed by Maxwell’s equations in the vacuum, such as manifestly non-paraxial laser pulses. Our code is based on a locally constant field approximation of the Heisenberg-Euler effective Lagrangian. As this approximation is applicable for essentially all optical high-intensity laser experiments, our code is capable of calculating signal photon emission amplitudes in completely generic input field configurations, limited only by numerical cost.
Abstract: All-optical experiments at the high-intensity frontier offer a promising route to unprecedented precision tests of quantum electrodynamics in strong macroscopic electromagnetic fields. So far, most theoretical studies of all-optical signatures of quantum vacuum nonlinearity are based on simplifying approximations of the beam profiles and pulse shapes of the driving laser fields. Since precision tests require accurate quantitative theoretical predictions, we introduce an efficient numerical tool facilitating the quantitative theoretical study of all-optical signatures of quantum vacuum nonlinearity in generic laser fields. Our approach is based on the vacuum emission picture, and makes use of the fact that the dynamics of the driving laser fields are to an excellent approximation governed by classical Maxwell theory in vacuum. In combination with a Maxwell solver, which self-consistently propagates any given laser field configuration, this allows for accurate theoretical predictions of photonic signatures of vacuum nonlinearity in high-intensity laser experiments from first principles. We employ our method to simulate photonic signatures of quantum vacuum nonlinearity in laser pulse collisions involving a few-cycle pulse, and show that the angular and spectral distributions of the emitted signal photons deviate from those of the driving laser beams.
Abstract: Schwinger pair production in spatially and temporally inhomogeneous electric and magnetic fields is studied. The focus is on the particle phase-space distribution within a high-intensity few-cycle pulse. Accurate numerical solutions of a quantum kinetic theory (DHW formalism) are presented in momentum space and, with the aid of coarse-graining techniques, in a mixed spatial-momentum representation. Additionally, signatures of the carrier-envelope phase as well as spin-field interactions are discussed on the basis of a trajectory-based model taking into account instantaneous pair production and relativistic single-particle dynamics. Although our simple semi-classical single-particle model cannot describe every aspect of the particle production process (quantum interferences), essential features such as spin-field interactions are captured.
Abstract: The tremendous progress in high-intensity laser technology and the establishment of dedicated high-field laboratories in recent years have paved the way towards a first observation of quantum vacuum nonlinearities at the high-intensity frontier. We advocate a particularly prospective scenario, where three synchronized high-intensity laser pulses are brought into collision, giving rise to signal photons, whose frequency and propagation direction differ from the driving laser pulses, thus providing various means to achieve an excellent signal to background separation. Based on the theoretical concept of vacuum emission, we employ an efficient numerical algorithm which allows us to model the collision of focused high-intensity laser pulses in unprecedented detail. We provide accurate predictions for the numbers of signal photons accessible in experiment. Our study is the first to predict the precise angular spread of the signal photons, and paves the way for a first verification of quantum vacuum nonlinearity in a well-controlled laboratory experiment at one of the many high-intensity laser facilities currently coming online.
Abstract: We study all-optical signatures of the effective nonlinear couplings among electromagnetic fields in the quantum vacuum, using the collision of two focused high-intensity laser pulses as an example. The experimental signatures of quantum vacuum nonlinearities are encoded in signal photons, whose kinematic and polarization properties differ from the photons constituting the macroscopic laser fields. We implement an efficient numerical algorithm allowing for the theoretical investigation of such signatures in realistic field configurations accessible in experiment. This algorithm is based on a vacuum emission scheme and can readily be adapted to the collision of more laser beams or further involved field configurations. We solve the case of two colliding pulses in full 3+1-dimensional spacetime and identify experimental geometries and parameter regimes with improved signal-to-noise ratios.
Abstract: The Dirac-Heisenberg-Wigner formalism is employed to investigate electron-positron pair production in cylindrically symmetric but otherwise spatially inhomogeneous, oscillating electric fields. The oscillation frequencies are hereby tuned to obtain multiphoton pair production in the nonperturbative threshold regime. An effective mass, as well as a trajectory-based semiclassical analysis, is introduced in order to interpret the numerical results for the distribution functions as well as for the particle yields and spectra. The results, including the asymptotic particle spectra, display clear signatures of ponderomotive forces.
Abstract: Electron–positron pair production in space- and time-dependent electromagnetic fields is investigated. Especially, the influence of a time-dependent, inhomogeneous magnetic field on the particle momenta and the total particle yield is analyzed for the first time. The role of the Lorentz invariant E^2-B^2, including its sign and local values, in the pair creation process is emphasized.