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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/X01133X/1
Title: Probing the Quantum Vacuum with High Power Laser and 4th Generation Light Sources in the Search for New Physics
Principal Investigator: Gregori, Professor G
Other Investigators:
Shipsey, Professor IP Sarkar, Professor S
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
European XFEL Instituto Superior Tecnico
Department: Oxford Physics
Organisation: University of Oxford
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 April 2023 Ends: 30 September 2026 Value (£): 622,696
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Lasers & Optics
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
R&D
Related Grants:
EP/X010791/1
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
07 Sep 2022 EPSRC Physical Sciences Prioritisation Panel - September 2022 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
A common perception is that laboratory tests of fundamental physics necessarily require large particle colliders. However, thanks to the development of ultra high-intensity optical lasers and 4th generation light sources, new approaches are now possible that exploit the simultaneous interactions of multiple photons with matter and vacua via quantum field fluctuations. In this proposal, we will employ these high-field non-perturbative quantum optics processes to search for new fundamental particles. Since accelerator-based searches have not yet found new physics at high energies, ultra high-intensity optical lasers and 4th generation light sources offer a novel complementary approach for searches at optical and X-ray energies.

This proposal addresses an important question in fundamental physics by developing a laboratory search for new particles beyond the Standard Model called axions. Our work will be able to probe axion masses bigger than a few eV up to a keV - a region that is currently inaccessible to laboratory searches. In the eV-keV mass range. the searches proposed here are the only model-independent ones, meaning that the experiments have full control over both the production and reconversion of axions within the same apparatus - without the need to assume that axions are produced by astrophysical objects (such as the Sun) or constitute a large fraction of the dark matter.

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Organisation Website: http://www.ox.ac.uk