The Next Frontier

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Science  01 Mar 2002:
Vol. 295, Issue 5560, pp. 1659-1660
DOI: 10.1126/science.1068449

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High-intensity lasers are opening up a new realm of light-matter interactions. In his Perspective, Yamanouchi reviews recent progress in this field, focusing on two intensity regimes: the Coulombic regime, which mostly deforms molecular structures and causes tunneling ionization, and the relativistic regime, where high-intensity lasers produce x-rays and high-energy particles and may cause nuclear fusion reactions. Efforts are under way to increase laser intensity further for accessing the next frontier.