People have been thinking about a photon-photon collider (see this and this) as an add-on or to supplement the ILC, the next generation linear collider.

My question is, have there been any photon-photon colliders running in the past*, including those running below the $e^+ e^-$ threshold to study non-linear effects in photon scattering?

*Virtual/Weissäcker-Williams/Equivalent photon-photon colliders don't count.

  • $\begingroup$ It might just be me who is not a lets say a proffessor, but aren't photons massless, and therefore do not interact with each other? What would be the point of such a colider? $\endgroup$ – Jakob May 12 '14 at 22:08
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    $\begingroup$ Photons interact with each other through higher order effects, where the photons will pair produce $e^+e^-$ pairs, and then those annihilate into new photons. $\endgroup$ – webb May 12 '14 at 22:49
  • $\begingroup$ Related but not a duplicate: Inverse pair production w/hohlaraum as photon target - is this experiment going to be carried out? $\endgroup$ – uhoh Apr 5 '18 at 4:50

It was done at SLAC in 1996. See Positron Production in Multiphoton Light-by-Light Scattering. The paper was in Physics Review Letters.

For some background reading, there’s plenty of arXiv papers with photon-photon interaction in the title. Also see Kirk McDonald's website for a wealth of information. He's a SLAC guy. For example, check out the 1998 PhysicsToday article gamma rays create matter just by plowing into laser light.

The photon-photon collisions weren't as "pure" as what the Imperial physicists are trying to do, but it was still gamma-gamma pair production.


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