To Accelerate Electrons, Multiple Laser Beams Are Better Than One

Using multiple high-energy laser beamlets, researchers in Japan were able to accelerate electrons more efficiently.

AsianScientist (Aug. 19, 2019) – Scientists in Japan have demonstrated how multiple overlapping laser beams are better at accelerating electrons to incredibly fast speeds, as compared with a single laser. This method can lead to more powerful and efficient X-ray and ion generation for laboratory astrophysics, cancer therapy research and controlled nuclear fusion. The findings are published in Nature Communications.

High-energy density physics is a field of study that deals with conditions resembling the chaotic moments immediately following the Big Bang. This often requires controlling intense beams of light, or lasers.

Notably, scientists have discovered many practical benefits arising from being able to produce and control lasers or very fast-moving electrons. However, it is often tricky to keep accelerating electron beams with intense laser beams because of complex interactions between the laser and electrons. Previously, very expensive optics or patterned targets were required to transfer laser energy to the electron beam.

In the present study, researchers led by Assistant Professor Alessio Morace at Osaka University, Japan, showed how splitting the laser beam into four coherent smaller beams, called beamlets, allows more energy to be transferred to electrons. This was accomplished by creating specific light interference patterns that keep the electrons on track.

“Just like overlapping ripples in a pond can create complex wave structures, we can use four laser beamlets to precisely control the environment to best accelerate the electrons,” said Morace.

The team found that the simultaneous irradiation of multiple laser beams at a single point allows for highly efficient laser-driven particle acceleration. Using light interference patterns instead of physical targets allows for better control and increased energy transfer.

“This research shows how new, high-performance lasers systems utilizing multi-beam coupling can be developed,” said senior author Professor Ryousuke Kodama of Osaka University. “This means that the method may soon appear in biology departments or fusion power plants.”

The article can be found at: Morace et al. (2019) Enhancing Laser Beam Performance by Interfering Intense Laser Beamlets.


Source: Osaka University; Photo: Shutterstock.
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