Feeds

Boffins build powerful yet 'table-top size' atom-smasher

Suitcase plasma cannon collider surfs on friggin LASERS

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Forget about mounting your lasers on the nearest shark, what you really want is a laser plasma accelerator you can put on your kitchen table.

Scientists at the US Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have managed to create powerful electron beams from much, much, much smaller accelerators than before, which could be used as compact high-energy colliders for fundamental physics – doing the sort of research the Large Hadron Collider is doing right now.

The wee accelerators could also be used as "sources of intensely bright beams of light" for investigating new materials, biological structures and green chemistry. Or, presumably, for table-top disco lighting.

Wim Leemans, who heads the LOASIS program in Berkeley Lab's Accelerator and Fusion Research Division responsible for the research, uses the analogy of a (special, slightly slower) surfer riding a wave to explain how their accelerator is different.

Beaming a powerful laser pulse through plasma builds up strong electric fields between atomic nuclei and electrons and leaves a wake of waves. Some of the electrons then get caught up in the waves and accelerated to high energy.

According to Leemans, these electrons are surfers caught up in a tsunami. To help the surfers gain better control, scientists have been injecting electrons into the accelerating field, boosted by colliding laser pulses. These little guys try to catch the wave and then a different laser pulse excites the wave. Much like the surfer paddling alongside, then catching and riding the wave, the technique requires timing and synchronisation.

"But there's a third way of helping a surfer catch a wave,” Leemans says, "and that's by slowing the wave until even slow surfers can catch it – then increasing the speed of the wave."

To do this, the researchers introduced a jet of helium gas, which increases the density of the plasma, slowing the waves down. They then use the laser intensity to speed the whole lot back up again once the surfers are onboard

The LOASIS crew presented their research in the journal Nature Physics. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Antarctic ice THICKER than first feared – penguin-bot boffins
Robo-sub scans freezing waters, rocks warming models
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Your PHONE is slowly KILLING YOU
Doctors find new Digitillnesses - 'text neck' and 'telepressure'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
prev story

Whitepapers

Seattle children’s accelerates Citrix login times by 500% with cross-tier insight
Seattle Children’s is a leading research hospital with a large and growing Citrix XenDesktop deployment. See how they used ExtraHop to accelerate launch times.
How to determine if cloud backup is right for your servers
Two key factors, technical feasibility and TCO economics, that backup and IT operations managers should consider when assessing cloud backup.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.