From medicine, space exploration, to weapons, the laser is a versatile tool but with a lot of power. It is not strange that they reduce their size or increase their power to open new fields. And that is what has happened now: they have discovered how to increase the charge of a laser up to a million times.
A team of scientists from the United Kingdom and South Korea have discovered a way to create laser pulses 1,000 times more intense than is currently possible. Led by Dino Jaroszynski and Hyyong Suk, they have used computer simulations and discovered that a new way to compress light It can dramatically increase its intensity to such an extent that particles can be extracted from the vacuum.
This is a new technique that could open the doors to important discoveries about the very nature of matter. The authors of the study, published in Nature Photonicssuggest using the plasma density gradient, which is fully ionized matter, to cause photons to group together. Basically, it’s what happens when a group of cars starts to go up a hill and the distance between them decreases and they get closer until they look like a single vehicle. If this technique is successful, it could increase the power of lasers by more than a million times what can currently be achieved.
Currently, the most powerful lasers in the world have a maximum power of approximately ten petawatts. At the STFC Rutherford Appleton laboratory, is building a new 20 petawatt laser called “Vulcan 20-20. To put this in perspective, Earth’s upper atmosphere receives 173 petawatts of sunlight, about a third of which reaches the Earth’s surface. Bottom line: a laser would be produced that would also have about a third of the energy that reaches the Earth from the Sun.
An important and fundamental question is what happens when light intensities exceed levels common on Earth, explains Jaroszynski in a statement -. High-powered lasers allow scientists answer basic questions about the nature of matter and the vacuum and explore what is known as the intensity boundary. Providing these types of tools to scientists is transforming the way science is done.
The new laser amplification technique, for example, will help physicists explore some fundamental aspects of interest, from the so-called “intensity frontier” to the ability to extract particles from a vacuum. The investigation has applications in astrophysics by simulating stellar phenomena and addressing energy issues through laser fusion research. It could also be useful in improving our understanding of the Schwinger limit: the theoretical point where light can be converted into matter, with immense theoretical and practical implications.
The results of this research are expected to be applicable in various fields, including advanced theoretical physics and astrophysics, concludes Min Sip -. It can also be used in laser fusion research to help address the energy problems facing humanity. Understanding the nature of matter and vacuum at intensities higher than those of current lasers is one of the main challenges of modern physics.