Feeds

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

Suitcase plasma cannon collider surfs on friggin LASERS

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

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. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
SCREW YOU, Russia! NASA lobs $6.8bn at Boeing AND SpaceX to run space station taxis
Musk charging nearly half as much as Boeing for crew trips
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Thought that last dinosaur was BIG? This one's bloody ENORMOUS
Weighed several adult elephants, contend boffins
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
India's MOM Mars mission makes final course correction
Mangalyaan probe will feel the burn of orbital insertion on September 24th
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
City hidden beneath England's Stonehenge had HUMAN ABATTOIR. And a pub
Boozed-up ancients drank beer before tearing corpses apart
'Duck face' selfie in SPAAAACE: Rosetta's snap with bird comet
Probe prepares to make first landing on fast-moving rock
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.
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.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.