Science News
from research organizations

Recreating conditions inside stars with compact lasers

Scientists offer a new path to creating the extreme conditions found in stars, using ultra-short laser pulses irradiating nanowires

Date:
January 12, 2017
Source:
Colorado State University
Summary:
Extreme conditions inside stars can only be recreated in the laboratory through fusion experiments with the world's largest lasers, which are the size of stadiums. Now, scientists have conducted an experiment that offers a new path to creating such extreme conditions, with much smaller, compact lasers that use ultra-short laser pulses irradiating arrays of aligned nanowires.
Share:
FULL STORY

Representation of the creation of ultra-high energy density matter by an intense laser pulse irradiation of an array of aligned nanowires.
Credit: R. Hollinger and A. Beardall

The energy density contained in the center of a star is higher than we can imagine -- many billions of atmospheres, compared with the 1 atmosphere of pressure we live with here on Earth's surface.

These extreme conditions can only be recreated in the laboratory through fusion experiments with the world's largest lasers, which are the size of stadiums. Now, scientists have conducted an experiment at Colorado State University that offers a new path to creating such extreme conditions, with much smaller, compact lasers that use ultra-short laser pulses irradiating arrays of aligned nanowires.

The experiments, led by University Distinguished Professor Jorge Rocca in the Departments of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Physics, accurately measured how deeply these extreme energies penetrate the nanostructures. These measurements were made by monitoring the characteristic X-rays emitted from the nanowire array, in which the material composition changes with depth.

Numerical models validated by the experiments predict that increasing irradiation intensities to the highest levels made possible by today's ultrafast lasers could generate pressures to surpass those in the center of our sun.

The results, published Jan. 11 in the journal Science Advances, open a path to obtaining unprecedented pressures in the laboratory with compact lasers. The work could open new inquiry into high energy density physics; how highly charged atoms behave in dense plasmas; and how light propagates at ultrahigh pressures, temperatures, and densities.

Creating matter in the ultra-high energy density regime could inform the study of laser-driven fusion -- using lasers to drive controlled nuclear fusion reactions -- and to further understanding of atomic processes in astrophysical and extreme laboratory environments.

The ability to create ultra-high energy density matter using smaller facilities is thus of great interest for making these extreme plasma regimes more accessible for fundamental studies and applications. One such application is the efficient conversion of optical laser light into bright flashes of X-rays.


Story Source:

Materials provided by Colorado State University. Original written by Anne Manning. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Clayton Bargsten, Reed Hollinger, Maria Gabriela Capeluto, Vural Kaymak, Alexander Pukhov, Shoujun Wang, Alex Rockwood, Yong Wang, David Keiss, Riccardo Tommasini, Richard London, Jaebum Park, Michel Busquet, Marcel Klapisch, Vyacheslav N. Shlyaptsev, Jorge J. Rocca. Energy penetration into arrays of aligned nanowires irradiated with relativistic intensities: Scaling to terabar pressures. Science Advances, 2017; 3 (1): e1601558 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1601558

Cite This Page:

Colorado State University. "Recreating conditions inside stars with compact lasers: Scientists offer a new path to creating the extreme conditions found in stars, using ultra-short laser pulses irradiating nanowires." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 January 2017. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/01/170112085738.htm>.
Colorado State University. (2017, January 12). Recreating conditions inside stars with compact lasers: Scientists offer a new path to creating the extreme conditions found in stars, using ultra-short laser pulses irradiating nanowires. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 29, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/01/170112085738.htm
Colorado State University. "Recreating conditions inside stars with compact lasers: Scientists offer a new path to creating the extreme conditions found in stars, using ultra-short laser pulses irradiating nanowires." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/01/170112085738.htm (accessed May 29, 2017).

RELATED STORIES