Catalysis of Schwinger Vacuum Pair Production

Research paper by Gerald V. Dunne, Holger Gies, Ralf Schützhold

Indexed on: 26 Oct '09Published on: 26 Oct '09Published in: High Energy Physics - Phenomenology


We propose a new catalysis mechanism for non-perturbative vacuum electron-positron pair production, by superimposing a plane-wave X-ray probe beam with a strongly focused optical laser pulse, such as is planned at the Extreme Light Infrastructure (ELI) facility. We compute the absorption coefficient arising from vacuum polarization effects for photons below threshold in a strong electric field. This set-up should facilitate the (first) observation of this non-perturbative QED effect with planned light sources such as ELI yielding an envisioned intensity of order 10^{26}W/cm^2.