World's most powerful laser creates plasma hotter than sun's corona

An X-ray laser generating pulses a billion times brighter than any x-ray source prior has heated an ultra thin sample of aluminum to a record 3.6 million degrees Fahrenheit. That's hotter than then sun's corona!

The experiment took less than a trillionth of a second, and could help scientists unlock the secrets of what lies at the center of our sun and other stars.

SLAC's Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) created the ultra short wavelengths of laser pulses and when targeted on the minute piece of aluminum turned it into what scientists call "hot dense matter."

While scientists have been able to create plasma from gases, this is the first time a laser has been able to do so with a solid mass.

The findings appear in the January 25 edition of Nature. Explaining the unique nature of the LCLA, report co-author Bob Nagler of SLAC, an LCLS instrument scientist told "The LCLS, with its ultra-short wavelengths of X-ray laser light, is the first that can penetrate a dense solid and create a uniform patch of plasma — in this case a cube one-thousandth of a centimeter on a side — and probe it at the same time,"

Having a sample of this superheated matter in the lab will help scientists understand the process of nuclear fusion and the plasma that powers the sun.

"The LCLS X-ray laser is a truly remarkable machine," said Sam Vinko, a postdoctoral researcher at Oxford University and the paper's lead author. "Making extremely hot, dense matter is important scientifically if we are ultimately to understand the conditions that exist inside stars and at the center of giant planets within our own solar system and beyond."

Via PhysOrg, Wired

For the latest tech stories, follow DVICE on Twitter
at @dvice or find us on Facebook