Saturday 24 February 2018

Bright idea: scientists' super laser puts sun in the shade

Handout photo issued by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln of a scientist at work in the Extreme Light Laboratory at the university, where physicists generated the brightest light ever produced on Earth. Photo: University of Nebraska-Lincoln/PA
Handout photo issued by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln of a scientist at work in the Extreme Light Laboratory at the university, where physicists generated the brightest light ever produced on Earth. Photo: University of Nebraska-Lincoln/PA

John von Radowitz

A laser has produced the most dazzling light ever made on Earth - one billion times brighter than the surface of the sun.

The extreme brightness sparked a phenomenon never seen before - unique X-rays that could be used for super-sensitive medical scans and security systems.

Scientists at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in the US fired an ultra high-intensity laser at electrons suspended in helium.

The aim was to study how photons from the laser scattered from single electrons. It is the scattering of light from a surface that makes vision possible.

But in this case the high number of scattered photons, almost 1,000 at a time, produced results that turned nature on its head.

Professor Donald Umstadter, from the university's extreme light laboratory, said: "It's as if things appear differently as you turn up the brightness of light, which is not something you normally would experience."

One effect was the creation of X-rays with unique properties, said the scientists writing in the journal 'Nature Photonics'.

They could form the basis of low-dose but highly sensitive 3D X-ray scans for tracking down elusive tumours.

Another potential application was the detection of increasingly sophisticated threats at security checkpoints.

Irish Independent

Promoted Links

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editors Choice

Also in World News