Researchers use trident laser to accelerate protons to record energies

November 02, 2009

An international team of physicists at Los Alamos National Laboratory has succeeded in using intense laser light to accelerate protons to energies never before achieved. Using this technique, scientists can now accelerate particles to extremely high velocities that would otherwise only be possible using large accelerator facilities. Physicists around the world are examining laser particle acceleration and laser produced radiation for potential future uses in cancer treatment.

Experiments by Sandrine Gaillard, performed as part of her doctoral thesis which is supervised by Prof. Cowan, director of the Institute of Radiation Physics at the Forschungszentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (FZD), achieved world-record energies for laser accelerated particles. These record results were obtained in partnership with scientists at FZD, Sandia National Laboratories, the University of Nevada, Reno, and the University of Missouri, Columbia, all working at the Trident Laser Facility at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. Protons were accelerated to velocities of 254 million miles per hour (or 37% of the speed of light).

The new record was achieved using specially shaped targets at Trident, the world's highest contrast high-intensity, high-energy laser. The scientists shot high-contrast ultrashort laser pulses lasting approximately 600 femtoseconds (600 quadrillionths of a second) and around 80 Joules directly into the cone-shaped structures, whose flat-top tips are covered with a thin film. The surfaces were created using nanotechnology, and produced by the company Nanolabz.

When the intense laser light collides with the inside of these anvil-like microstructures, electrons are liberated from the material. In contrast to flat-foils, the microstructures act as an electron guide to the tip. The electric field generated can then be used to accelerate the protons to energies that were previously unachievable. X-ray imaging (see Fig. 2) was used as a diagnostic tool to help illustrate and clarify the laser-cone interaction. The precise interactions, however, must still be resolved by the scientists via computer simulations. Next, they will study the cones ability to efficiently convert laser light into high energy protons.
-end-
The record measurements will be presented at the annual APS Division of Plasma Physics meeting in November 2009 in Atlanta, GA.

American Physical Society

Related Laser Articles from Brightsurf:

Laser technology: New trick for infrared laser pulses
For a long time, scientists have been looking for simple methods to produce infrared laser pulses.

Sensors get a laser shape up
Laser writing breathes life into high-performance sensing platforms.

Laser-powered nanomotors chart their own course
The University of Tokyo introduced a system of gold nanorods that acts like a tiny light-driven motor, with its direction of motion is determined by the orientation of the motors.

What laser color do you like?
Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the University of Maryland have developed a microchip technology that can convert invisible near-infrared laser light into any one of a panoply of visible laser colors, including red, orange, yellow and green.

Laser technology: The Turbulence and the Comb
While the light of an ordinary laser only has one single, well-defined wavelength, a so-called ''frequency comb'' consists of different light frequencies, which are precisely arranged at regular distances, much like the teeth of a comb.

A laser for penetrating waves
The 'Landau-level laser' is an exciting concept for an unusual radiation source.

Laser light detects tumors
A team of researchers from Jena presents a groundbreaking new method for the rapid, gentle and reliable detection of tumors with laser light.

The first laser radio transmitter
For the first time, researchers at Harvard School of Engineering have used a laser as a radio transmitter and receiver, paving the way for towards ultra-high-speed Wi-Fi and new types of hybrid electronic-photonic devices.

The random anti-laser
Scientists at TU Wien have found a way to build the 'opposite' of a laser -- a device that absorbs a specific light wave perfectly.

Laser 'drill' sets a new world record in laser-driven electron acceleration
Combining a first laser pulse to heat up and 'drill' through a plasma, and another to accelerate electrons to incredibly high energies in just tens of centimeters, scientists have nearly doubled the previous record for laser-driven particle acceleration at Berkeley Lab's BELLA Center.

Read More: Laser News and Laser Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.