Science & Technology
Super-heating lasers to aid fusion research
November 14, 2015 | 8 comments
Lasers could hold the key to mastering nuclear fusion energy. Image Credit: NASA
Scientists have found a way to use lasers to heat materials to extreme temperatures almost instantly.
Lasers have the potential to heat certain types of materials up to tens of millions of degrees in less than a million millionth of a second - that is at least according to theoretical physicists from Imperial College London who have come up with an extremely effective new super-heating mechanism.
Capable of producing temperatures hotter than the center of the sun, this remarkable new method could prove particularly useful in nuclear fusion energy research and has the potential to heat materials more than 100 times faster than anything that has ever been attempted before.
"It's a completely unexpected result," said the paper's lead author Dr Arthur Turrell.
"One of the problems with fusion research has been getting the energy from the laser in the right place at the right time. This method puts energy straight into the ions."
Unlike nuclear fission which produces dangerous radioactive waste, nuclear fusion can produce large amounts of clean energy from hydrogen - the most abundant element in the universe.
Getting it to work effectively has long remained one of the most sought-after goals in science.
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