Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Secrets from within planets pave way for cleaner energy

23.10.2008
Research that has provided a deeper understanding into the centre of planets could also provide the way forward in the world’s quest for cleaner energy.

An international team of scientists, led by the University of Oxford, working alongside researchers at the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s (STFC) Central Laser Facility, has gained a deeper insight into the hot, dense matter found at the centre of planets and as a result, has provided further understanding into controlled thermonuclear fusion. The full paper on this research has been published, 19 October, in the scientific journal, Nature Physics.

This deeper insight into planets could extend our comprehension of fusion energy – the same energy that powers the sun, and laser driven fusion as a future energy source. Fusion energy is widely considered an attractive, environmentally clean power source using sea water as its principal source of fuel, where no greenhouse gasses or long lived radioactive waste materials are produced.

Using STFC’s Vulcan laser, the team has used an intense beam of X-rays to successfully identify and reproduce conditions found inside the core of planets, where solid matter has a temperature in excess of 50,000 degrees. The understanding of the complex state of matter in these extreme conditions represents one of the grand challenges of contemporary physics. The results from the Vulcan experiments are intended to improve our models of Jupiter and Saturn and to obtain better constraints on their composition and the age of the Solar System.

Using inelastic X-ray scattering measurements on a compressed lithium sample, it was shown how hot, dense matter states can be diagnosed and structural properties can be obtained. The thermodynamic properties – temperature, density and ionisation state, were all measured using a combination of non-invasive, high accuracy, X-ray diagnostics and advanced numerical simulations. The experiment has revealed that the matter at the centre of planets is in a state that is intermediate between a solid and a gas over lengths larger than 0.3 nanometres. To put this into context, 1 nanometre equates to less than 1/10000th of a human hair! Results showed that extreme matter behaves as a charged liquid, but at smaller distances it acts more like a gas.

Dr Gianluca Gregori, of the University of Oxford and STFC’s Central Laser Facility said: “The study of warm dense matter states, in this experiment on lithium, shows practical applications for controlled thermonuclear fusion, and it also represents significant understanding relating to astrophysical environments found in the core of planets and the crusts of old stars. This research therefore makes it not only possible to formulate more accurate models of planetary dynamics, but also to extend our comprehension of controlled thermonuclear fusion where such states of matter, that is liquid and gas, must be crossed to initiate fusion reactions. This work expands our knowledge of complex systems of particles where the laws that regulate their motion are both classical and quantum mechanical. ”

Professor Mike Dunne, Director of the Central Laser Facility at STFC said: “Using high power lasers to find solutions to astrophysical issues is an area that has been highly active at STFC for some time. We are very excited that the Vulcan laser has contributed to such a significant piece of research. The use of extremely powerful lasers is proving to be a particularly effective approach to delivering long-term solutions for carbon-free energy.”

Wendy Taylor | alfa
Further information:
http://www.stfc.ac.uk
http://www.nature.com/nphys/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nphys1103.html

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht SF State astronomer searches for signs of life on Wolf 1061 exoplanet
20.01.2017 | San Francisco State University

nachricht Molecule flash mob
19.01.2017 | Technische Universität Wien

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Helmholtz International Fellow Award for Sarah Amalia Teichmann

20.01.2017 | Awards Funding

An innovative high-performance material: biofibers made from green lacewing silk

20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery

20.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>