Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

As hot as the Sun’s interior

05.06.2019

Physicists at Friedrich Schiller University Jena create plasma for the first time using nanowires and long-wavelength ultrashort pulse laser

The three classic physical states – solid, liquid and gaseous – can be observed in any normal kitchen, for example when you bring an ice cube to the boil. But if you heat material even further, so that the atoms of a substance collide and the electrons separate from them, then another state is reached: plasma.


Dr Zhanna Samsonova and Dr Daniil Kartashov are preparing an experiment on the JETI laser in a laboratory of the Institute of Optics and Quantum Electronics at the Friedrich Schiller University Jena.

Photo: Jan-Peter Kasper/University Jena

More than 99 per cent of material in space is present in this form, inside stars for instance. It is therefore no wonder that physicists are keen to study such material. Unfortunately, creating and studying plasmas on Earth using the high temperature and pressure that exist inside stars is extremely challenging for various reasons.

Physicists at Friedrich Schiller University Jena have now managed to solve some of these problems, and they have reported on their results in the renowned research journal ‘Physical Review X’.

Nanowires let light through

“To heat material in such a way that plasma is formed, we need correspondingly high energy. We generally use light in the form of a large laser to do this,” explains Christian Spielmann of the University of Jena. “However, this light has to be very short-pulsed, so that the material does not immediately expand when it has reached the appropriate temperature, but holds together as dense plasma for a brief period.”

There is a problem with this experimental setup, though: “When the laser beam hits the sample, plasma is created. However, it almost immediately starts to act like a mirror and reflects a large part of the incoming energy, which therefore fails to penetrate the matter fully. The longer the wavelength of the laser pulse, the more critical the problem,” says Zhanna Samsonova, who played a leading role in the project.

To avoid this mirror effect, the researchers in Jena used samples made of silicon wires. The diameter of such wires – a few hundred nanometres – is smaller than the wavelength of around four micrometres of the incoming light.

“We were the first to use a laser with such a long wavelength for the creation of plasma,” says Spielmann. “The light penetrates between the wires in the sample and heats them from all sides, so that for a few picoseconds, a significantly larger volume of plasma is created than if the laser is reflected. Around 70 per cent of the energy manages to penetrate the sample.”

Furthermore, thanks to the short laser pulses, the heated material exists slightly longer before it expands. Finally, using X-ray spectroscopy, researchers can retrieve valuable information about the state of the material.

Maximum values for temperature and density

“With our method, it is possible to achieve new maximum values for temperature and density in a laboratory,” says Spielmann. With a temperature of around 10 million Kelvin, the plasma is far hotter than material on the surface of the Sun, for example. Spielmann also mentions the cooperation partners in the project.

For the laser experiments, the Jena scientists used a facility at the Vienna University of Technology; the samples come from the National Metrology Institute of Germany in Braunschweig; and computer simulations for confirming the findings come from colleagues in Darmstadt and Düsseldorf.

The Jena team’s results are a ground-breaking success, offering a completely new approach to plasma research. Theories on the state of plasma can be verified through experiments and subsequent computer simulations. This will enable researchers to understand cosmological processes better. In addition, the scientists are carrying out valuable preparatory work for the installation of large-scale apparatus.

For example, the international particle accelerator, ‘Facility for Antiproton and Ion Research’ (FAIR), is currently being set up in Darmstadt and should become operational around 2025. Thanks to the new information, it will be possible to select specific areas that merit closer examination look.

Wissenschaftliche Ansprechpartner:

Dr Zhanna Samsonova / Prof. Christian Spielmann
Institute of Optics and Quantum Electronics of Friedrich Schiller University, Jena
Max-Wien-Platz 1, 07743 Jena, Germany
Tel.: +49 (0)3641/947214, +49 (0)3641/947231
E-mail: zhanna.samsonova@uni-jena.de, christian.spielmann@uni-jena.de

Originalpublikation:

Zhanna Samsonova, et al.: Relativistic Interaction of Long-Wavelength Ultrashort Laser Pulses with Nanowires, Physical Review X, 2019, DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevX.9.021029

Sebastian Hollstein | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Further information:
http://www.uni-jena.de/

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Creating switchable plasmons in plastics
11.12.2019 | Linköping University

nachricht Highly charged ion paves the way towards new physics
11.12.2019 | Max-Planck-Institut für Kernphysik

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: Highly charged ion paves the way towards new physics

In a joint experimental and theoretical work performed at the Heidelberg Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics, an international team of physicists detected for the first time an orbital crossing in the highly charged ion Pr⁹⁺. Optical spectra were recorded employing an electron beam ion trap and analysed with the aid of atomic structure calculations. A proposed nHz-wide transition has been identified and its energy was determined with high precision. Theory predicts a very high sensitivity to new physics and extremely low susceptibility to external perturbations for this “clock line” making it a unique candidate for proposed precision studies.

Laser spectroscopy of neutral atoms and singly charged ions has reached astonishing precision by merit of a chain of technological advances during the past...

Im Focus: Ultrafast stimulated emission microscopy of single nanocrystals in Science

The ability to investigate the dynamics of single particle at the nano-scale and femtosecond level remained an unfathomed dream for years. It was not until the dawn of the 21st century that nanotechnology and femtoscience gradually merged together and the first ultrafast microscopy of individual quantum dots (QDs) and molecules was accomplished.

Ultrafast microscopy studies entirely rely on detecting nanoparticles or single molecules with luminescence techniques, which require efficient emitters to...

Im Focus: How to induce magnetism in graphene

Graphene, a two-dimensional structure made of carbon, is a material with excellent mechanical, electronic and optical properties. However, it did not seem suitable for magnetic applications. Together with international partners, Empa researchers have now succeeded in synthesizing a unique nanographene predicted in the 1970s, which conclusively demonstrates that carbon in very specific forms has magnetic properties that could permit future spintronic applications. The results have just been published in the renowned journal Nature Nanotechnology.

Depending on the shape and orientation of their edges, graphene nanostructures (also known as nanographenes) can have very different properties – for example,...

Im Focus: Electronic map reveals 'rules of the road' in superconductor

Band structure map exposes iron selenide's enigmatic electronic signature

Using a clever technique that causes unruly crystals of iron selenide to snap into alignment, Rice University physicists have drawn a detailed map that reveals...

Im Focus: Developing a digital twin

University of Texas and MIT researchers create virtual UAVs that can predict vehicle health, enable autonomous decision-making

In the not too distant future, we can expect to see our skies filled with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) delivering packages, maybe even people, from location...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

The Future of Work

03.12.2019 | Event News

First International Conference on Agrophotovoltaics in August 2020

15.11.2019 | Event News

Laser Symposium on Electromobility in Aachen: trends for the mobility revolution

15.11.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Self-driving microrobots

11.12.2019 | Materials Sciences

Innovation boost for “learning factory”: European research project “SemI40” generates path-breaking findings

11.12.2019 | Information Technology

Molecular milk mayonnaise: How mouthfeel and microscopic properties are related in mayonnaise

11.12.2019 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>