Strong field science has become one of the most active areas of research with the development of ultra-high power lasers. Ever since the introduction of the chirped pulse amplification technique in 1985, available laser power has increased dramatically. The coupling of the CPA technique with picosecond and femtosecond laser technology has made compact ultrashort high-power lasers readily accessible, boosting their usage in almost all areas of science, medicine and engineering. Fascinatingly ultra-high power lasers with power exceeding 100 TW or even 1 PW are now available or being prepared in a number of institutes around the world. Starting from the development of the 0.85-PW laser in 2003 at the Kansai Photon Science Institute (KPSI) of Japan Atomic Energy Agency, Asian groups have worked intensively on ultrahigh power lasers and strong field science. As such, it is a timely moment to present the feature articles, “Ultra-High Power Lasers and Strong Field Science Research in Asia,” in order to introduce the research activities of Asian groups in this emerging field.
The intense laser community in Asia has been actively involved in ultra-high power lasers and their applications. After the development of the PW laser at KPSI, a Korean group at Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology demonstrated the first Ti:Sapphire laser reaching 1 PW from its first beamline in 2010 and 1.5 PW from the second beamline in 2012. Two Chinese groups at the Shanghai Institute of Optics and Fine Mechanics and at the Institute of Physics have been quite successful in increasing the laser power to over 1 PW. Two Indian Institutes at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Science and at the Raja Ramanna Centre for Advanced Technology are boosting their lasers with 100′s of TW outputs to PW outputs. In addition, the Institute of Laser Engineering at Osaka University, a laser fusion institute, has been a leader in strong field science based on its PW Nd: glass laser beamline. The five feature articles in this issue explain the status and perspectives of ultra-high power laser developments and applications to strong field science. Though they try to cover all aspects of research activities in different countries, there could be some uncovered parts due to the limitation in space.
As the facility of ultra-high power lasers becomes ever bigger, the necessity for systematic networking among Asian laser groups also grows. In order to promote collaboration in the areas of intense laser science and technology among research groups in Asian countries, the Asian Intense Laser Network (AILN) was launched in 2004. A series of conferences and summer schools have been organized at AILN, promoting close interactions and networking. As compared to the Laserlab-Europe, the Asian laser network is not yet as strong, due to the absence of a governing body such as the EU. Recently the EU has been promoting the Extreme Light Infrastructure (ELI), a strong laser infrastructure program, to install PW laser facilities in three countries – Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania, each concentrating on beamlines for applications of laser-accelerated charged particles and radiations, attosecond science, and nuclear physics, respectively. These facilities will be strongly connected through the ELI Delivery Consortium. So far, Asian groups are struggling separately in handling bottleneck technologies and in developing new scopes of strong field science.
We hope that this occasion of publishing the feature articles on strong field science in the Bulletin will become an opportunity to initiate an Asian super-intense laser network.