BRENT: Lasers could heat materials to temperatures hotter than the centre of the Sun in only 20 quadrillionths of a second, according to new research that could revolutionise energy production.
Physicists from Imperial College London have devised an extremely rapid heating mechanism that they believe could heat certain materials to ten million degrees in much less than a million millionth of a second.
The method, proposed for the first time, could be relevant to new avenues of research in thermonuclear fusion energy, where scientists are seeking to replicate the Sun’s ability to produce clean energy.
The heating would be about 100 times faster than rates currently seen in fusion experiments using the world’s most energetic laser system at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California.
Researchers have been using high-power lasers to heat material as part of the effort to create fusion energy for many years.
In the new study, the physicists at Imperial were looking for ways to directly heat up ions – particles which make up the bulk of matter.
When lasers are used to heat most materials, the energy from the laser first heats up the electrons in the target. These in turn heat up the ions, making the process slower than targeting the ions directly.