Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Ultracold Plasmas Are A Chilling Puzzle

Date:
December 11, 2001
Source:
National Institute Of Standards And Technology
Summary:
Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Physics Laboratory have created “ultracold” plasmas—with the electrons about a degree above absolute zero—by cooling neutral atoms to within a hundred-thousandth of a degree of absolute zero and then zapping them with just enough laser energy to separate the electrons and ions to achieve the plasma state.

Plasmas, which include the bright glowy stuff in a fluorescent lamp, are clouds in which ions and free electrons move around independently as charged particles.

Plasma is thought to be the most common form of matter in the universe, but it’s usually pretty hot. The plasma in a solar corona can have a temperature in the millions of degrees.

Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Physics Laboratory, however, have created “ultracold” plasmas—with the electrons about a degree above absolute zero—by cooling neutral atoms to within a hundred-thousandth of a degree of absolute zero and then zapping them with just enough laser energy to separate the electrons and ions to achieve the plasma state.

One of the key measures of any plasma is the recombination rate—how fast the ions and electrons recombine to form neutral atoms.

Theory says there are three main recombination processes, and their efficiency varies in a known way with temperature and density.

However, NIST physicist Steven Rolston says that in practice, an expanding ultracold plasma recombines much faster than expected at very low densities—so much faster that no existing theory describes it.

Rolston and his group are continuing to refine their experiments to explain the behavior of ultracold plasmas, which, although they only exist in earthly labs, are thought to model the interior of white dwarf stars or gas giant planets like Jupiter.

The research also may uncover a path to synthesizing “anti-hydrogen” atoms, the antimatter equivalent of hydrogen. Precise comparisons of the properties of such antimatter twins may probe the fundamental nature of the forces that bind matter and the universe together.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Institute Of Standards And Technology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

National Institute Of Standards And Technology. "Ultracold Plasmas Are A Chilling Puzzle." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 December 2001. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/12/011210071925.htm>.
National Institute Of Standards And Technology. (2001, December 11). Ultracold Plasmas Are A Chilling Puzzle. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/12/011210071925.htm
National Institute Of Standards And Technology. "Ultracold Plasmas Are A Chilling Puzzle." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/12/011210071925.htm (accessed August 20, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Awesome New Camouflage Sheet Was Inspired By Octopus Skin

Awesome New Camouflage Sheet Was Inspired By Octopus Skin

Newsy (Aug. 19, 2014) Scientists have developed a new device that mimics the way octopuses blend in with their surroundings to hide from dangerous predators. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

AP (Aug. 19, 2014) Four Texas high school football programs are trying out an experimental system designed to diagnose concussions on the field. The technology is in response to growing concern over head trauma in America's most watched sport. (Aug. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Green Power Blooms as Japan Unveils 'hydrangea Solar Cell'

Green Power Blooms as Japan Unveils 'hydrangea Solar Cell'

AFP (Aug. 19, 2014) A solar cell that resembles a flower is offering a new take on green energy in Japan, where one scientist is searching for renewables that look good. Duration: 01:29 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tiny Satellites, Like The One Tossed From ISS, On The Rise

Tiny Satellites, Like The One Tossed From ISS, On The Rise

Newsy (Aug. 18, 2014) The Chasqui I, hand-delivered into orbit by a Russian cosmonaut, is one of hundreds of small satellites set to go up in the next few years. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins