LECTURE 1: Laser-driven wakefield acceleration: basic principles and application to the generation of secondary sources

Since their first experimental demonstration in the early 2000, laser-driven wakefield accelerators are now established as a cost-effective and compact solution to accelerate electrons up to ultra-relativistic energies, often exceeding the GeV. In this lecture, the basic physical principles behind these novel accelerators will be discussed. A selection of applications for these accelerators will also be presented, focussing on their capability to drive radiation and particle sources with unique spatio-temporal characteristics.

LECTURE 2: Strong-field QED in the field of an intense laser: status and near-term plans

Quantum Electrodynamics (QED) represents one of the greatest achievements of modern theoretical physics, combining two revolutionary theories of the last century, quantum mechanics and special relativity, in an elegant and powerful system. This theory has redefined the way we look at Nature. For instance, it has introduced the concept of antiparticles, and it models vacuum not as an empty void, but as an exciting space fermenting with short-lived events. While the theory has been thoroughly tested in the linear regime, only sparse and indirect experimental observations of the strong-field behaviour of the theory have been reported. In this lecture, we will discuss how high- intensity lasers allow experimentally accessing the strong-field limit of QED, triggering exotic phenomena such as quantum radiation reaction, vacuum polarisation, and pair production. Recent experimental results and near-term plans will also be presented.