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Petawatt Laser Is Coming
June 18, 2008 22:20

Petawatt laser

Russian physicists developed a compact petawatt (10 15 Watt) laser. Such a powerful laser unit offers remarkable opportunities for studying extreme states of matter, creating “desktop” laser charged particle accelerators, which can replace huge and expensive existing accelerators, as well as developing new effective therapy and diagnostics techniques.

Scientists from Institute of Applied Physics and Russian Centre of Nuclear Physics developed a laser unit, which entered top 5 most powerful lasers of the world with peak capacity reaching 0.56 PetaWatt and pulse duration of 43 femtoseconds (1 fs = 10 -15 s).

Physics of ultrashort laser pulses is a rapidly developing scientific field, because its applications sound fantastic, for example, controlling processes in physical, chemical and biological systems on molecular level, communication technologies with very dense information transfer, precision micro-processing of materials and etc. Optics of ultrashort laser pulses is the basis for development of superstrong field physics and extreme states of matter, generated by these fields. Powerful laser units generate optic fields with intensities exceeding 1019 Wt/sm2. Such laser units can be good modeling instruments for processes, taking place in nuclear and thermonuclear reactions.



DKDP crystal Russian laser unit has some unique properties – it has light parametric amplifiers instead of common laser ones. The point here is that traditional amplification of femtosecond laser pulses on neodymium-doped glass has restrictions on the way of raising intensity of laser units. That is why physicists are searching for alternative ways of breaking petawatt barrier. Russian researchers suggested using nonlinear crystal of DKDP (KD2PO4 – potassium dideuterium phosphate) for parametric light amplification, thus reaching capacity of 0.56 PetaWatt, which is promising for studies of extreme states of matter and for medical and other applications. Developers claim that original architecture of the laser unit allows upgrading the unit up to 10 PetaWatt.



Existing sources of powerful femtosecond laser pulses are able to generate flows of accelerated particles with energies, comparable to that of linear accelerators and synchrotrons. Such particles appear during nonlinear interaction of lasers with matter. Laser units are compact and cheap, unlike traditional accelerators, thus allowing researcher to dream about projects, considered unreal even yesterday – vacuum breakdown in focused light beam or generation of tiny black holes in a laser laboratory. Extreme optic fields can also do in medicine: protonography, positron emission tomography (PET) and hadronic therapy.

Femtosecond laser pulses make studying intramolecular processes possible – isn’t it a revolution? Multiphoton processes of light absorption allow femtosecond lasers to act inside cells, which is a definite breakthrough in surgery, promising relief to thousands of patients.

Source: Science & Life

Kizilova Anna

Tags: Russian Scientists Russian medicine    

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