Ultra-Intense Lasers Empty Atoms From The Inside Out

The J-KAREN femtosecond laser facility has been used to generate X-rays with a radiative temperature of 15,000,000°C.

AsianScientist (Oct. 14, 2015) – Using high-brightness X-ray sources, researchers have recreated the world of exotic atoms typically present in supernova explosions in the laboratory. Their findings have been published in Scientific Reports.

The international team of researchers, led by Professor Anatoly Raenov of the Division of Photon Science and Technology of the Institute for Academic Initiatives and Mamiko Nishiuchi of the Japan Atomic Energy Agency’s (JAEA) Quantum Beam Science Center, performed an experiment to demonstrate that it is possible to remove the two most deeply bound electrons from atoms, emptying the inner most quantum shell and leading to a distinctive plasma state.

The highly unusual plasma composed of hollow atoms was created using the JAEA Kansai Advanced Relativistic Engineering Laser (J-KAREN), one of the world’s most powerful compact femtosecond laser facilities.

The irradiating solid matter with the incredibly powerful high contrast J-KAREN laser beam allowed the scientists to successfully to attain X-rays with a radiative temperature of 15,000,000°C, and a plasma state of 3,000,000°C. In addition, it was discovered that multiple inner-shell electron excitations were generated, causing an explosive increase in the number of intense X-rays.

The results showed that atoms can be emptied from the inside out by ultra-intense visible lasers. The behavior of the exotic atoms produced under such extreme conditions can provide a clue for understanding extreme states occurring in outer space, such as those in supernova explosions.

Moreover, the finding that the generation efficiency of X-rays explosively increases in proportion with the power of the laser beam opens doors for using X-rays with unprecedented intensities using existing compact femtosecond leading laser facilities. Such high intensity lasers are expected to lead to industrial application such as more precise and non-destructive X-ray testing, as well as the construction of new materials.

The article can be found at: Faenov et al. (2015) Nonlinear Increase of X-ray Intensities from Thin Foils Irradiated with a 200 TW Femtosecond Laser.


Source: Osaka University.
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