by Brooks Hays
Washington (UPI) Mar 23, 2017
Researchers in Scotland have figured out what happens to laser energy when a beam is fired into plasma.
Plasma is the most abundant form of matter in the universe. When it is fully ionized, and the positive and negative charged particles separate, plasma can host powerful electronic and magnetic fields.
Researchers can create plasma particle separation by hitting it with a laser pulse. The pulse displaces electrons, leaving ions isolated, which then exert an attractive force on the displaced electrons. The pulse then creates a wake of oscillating electrons.
The electric phenomenon creates a particle accelerator. Because the wake moves close to the speed of light, it allows charged particles to be accelerated across short distances at high energies.
Until now, scientists hadn't investigated what happens to the entirety of the energy supplied by the laser pulse.
"An interesting conundrum that has not been considered before is the question of where laser energy goes after being deposited in plasma," Dino Jaroszynski, a professor of physics at the University of Strathclyde, said in a news release. "We know where some of this energy goes because of the presence of high-energy electrons emitted in a narrow, forward directed beam."
Analysis by Jaroszynski and his colleagues revealed the presence of two other beams, one of which moves in a backwards direction.
"My research group has shown that the wakefield accelerator produces three beams, two of which are low energy and high charge, and the third, high energy and low charge," Jaroszynski said.
Researchers hope their findings -- detailed in the journal Scientific Reports -- will help scientists improve the efficiency and application potential of wakefield accelerators.
"These beams can provide a useful high flux of electrons or bremsstrahlung photons over a large area, which can be used for imaging applications, or for investigating radiation damage in materials," said Enrico Brunetti, a physicist and research fellow at Strathclyde. "If not properly dumped, they can, however, have undesirable side-effects, such as causing damage to equipment placed close to the accelerator."
Moscow (Sputnik) Mar 21, 2017
2017 has already seen a spate of bold statements by Russia and US officials about the development and testing of laser weapons in their countries; earlier this week, the US announced that it is preparing to test a new high-powered laser weapon which can be mounted on army trucks. On March 16, Lockheed Martin said that its new solid-state fiber laser can slice through targets with a record- ... read more
Learn about laser weapon technology at SpaceWar.com
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement|