NOV 01, 2017 6:00 AM PDT

The Newly Discovered Gamma Rays are Super Lights

WRITTEN BY: Daniel Duan

An international team of physicists has produced high-intensity gamma beams that have the energy a billion times higher than photons in visible light. These powerful photons significantly exceed all known limits of lights and can pave the way towards new fundamental discovery in physics.

Trapped particles (green) resulted from gamma laser converts the laser energy (surfaces in red, orange and yellow) into cascades of super-high-energy photons (pink). Credit: Arkady Gonoskov

Scientists have been contemplated the construction of a high energy gamma-ray laser device, also known as the graser. This hypothetically powerful device would be powered by nuclear transitions from a nuclear isomer and could produce coherent high energy gamma rays.

In normal cases, if you shoot a laser at an object, all the photon particles scatter upon contact. But if the laser light has the right parameters and is intense enough, the photons are instead trapped. The cloud of trapped particles efficiently converts the laser energy into cascades of high energy photons and produces a plasma of electrons and positrons.

According to a report published in the journal Physical Review X, the discovery was the result of collaboration between the Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden, Institute of Applied Physics and Lobachevsky University in Russia, and the University of Plymouth in the UK. The construction of a gamma-ray laser involves both basic science and engineering technology. Therefore, the research team has to be interdisciplinary, including experts in the fields of quantum mechanics, nuclear and optical spectroscopy, chemistry, solid-state physics, and metallurgy.

To be able to produce super light source, the researcher needed to tackle the known problems in generating high-intensity gamma beams – the cascade process radiation reaction and rapid electron-positron plasma production, both of which hinder the production of high energy photons.

To overcome these restrictions, they came up with a new source concept, which is based on a controlled interplay between the cascade and anomalous radiative trapping. With the help of specially designed advanced numerical models, they brought their concept into reality by only using a laser power close to 7 PW (petawatt, or 1012 W). By ramping up the laser power to 40 PW, their device generated 109 photons with GeV (gigaelectronvolt, or 109 electronvolts) energies. Their gamma beam achieved a peak brilliance that was unmatched by any beams on record.

The discovery is highly encouraging since many future large-scale laser facilities that are currently under development. "When we exceed the limit of what is currently possible, we can see deeper into the basic elements of nature. We can dive into the deepest part of the atomic nuclei," commented the lead author Arkady Gonoskov, a physicist at the Chalmers University of Technology. 

"Our concept is already part of the experimental program proposed for one such facility: Exawatt Center for Extreme Light Studies in Russia. We still don't know where these studies will lead us, but we know that there are yet things to be discovered within nuclear physics, for example, new sources of energy. With fundamental studies, you can aim at something and end up discovering something completely different – which is more interesting and important," added Arkady Gonoskov.

SwissFEL – a new large-scale laser facility. Credit: Paul Scherrer Institute

Source: phys.org

About the Author
Graduated with a bachelor degree in Pharmaceutical Science and a master degree in neuropharmacology, Daniel is a radiopharmaceutical and radiobiology expert based in Ottawa, Canada. With years of experience in biomedical R&D, Daniel is very into writing. He is constantly fascinated by what's happening in the world of science. He hopes to capture the public's interest and promote scientific literacy with his trending news articles. The recurring topics in his Chemistry & Physics trending news section include alternative energy, material science, theoretical physics, medical imaging, and green chemistry.
You May Also Like
AUG 03, 2022
Genetics & Genomics
Chromosomes Stay in a 'Liquid' State
AUG 03, 2022
Chromosomes Stay in a 'Liquid' State
Our genome is huge. It's made up of about 3 billion base pairs, and if the whole molecule was stretched to its full leng ...
AUG 16, 2022
Space & Astronomy
Lunar IceCube Will Hitch a Ride on Artemis 1
AUG 16, 2022
Lunar IceCube Will Hitch a Ride on Artemis 1
NASA’s Lunar IceCube is one of several CubeSats hitching a ride to the Moon on Artemis 1. CubeSats are efficient a ...
AUG 19, 2022
Earth & The Environment
Time is Running out to Save East Antarctica from Climate Change
AUG 19, 2022
Time is Running out to Save East Antarctica from Climate Change
In a recent study published in Nature, a international team of researchers from the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, a ...
AUG 19, 2022
Chemistry & Physics
An Environmentally Friendly Filter That Removes Microplastics
AUG 19, 2022
An Environmentally Friendly Filter That Removes Microplastics
Harnessing the power of mechanical energy, researchers at the Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science & Technology and ...
AUG 26, 2022
Chemistry & Physics
The Sound of a Black Hole
AUG 26, 2022
The Sound of a Black Hole
NASA has figured out what a black hole sounds like, and it’s terrifying. The video was uploaded to YouTube in May ...
SEP 23, 2022
Microbiology
Heme-Loving Plant Peptide Could Have Many Applications
SEP 23, 2022
Heme-Loving Plant Peptide Could Have Many Applications
Symbiotic relationships enable organisms to use one another, usually to the advantage of both. Legumes can live in symbi ...
Loading Comments...