A study that was published in Physical review letters says it is possible to build a laser so powerful that it can drill a hole into the reality. Even for theory, the notion sounds incredible.
Science has developed so much that now that we have lasers that are capable of destroying matter leaving just electrons and nuclei behind. But our physicists never know when to stop improving something. The new paper is suggesting a method by which we can build (theoretically at least) a laser that can produce a 1000 times the intensity of laser we have now.
A laser is a device that emits light through a process of optical amplification based on the stimulated emission of electromagnetic radiation. To put it simply a laser reflects light internally to repeatedly to create what scientists call as spatial coherence. It makes the light incredibly focused. The more power we can supply to laser the more powerful a laser output is going to be.
But there is a limit to how much power it can be supplied. As light needs to be reflected using some kind of material, the more intense the laser gets, the more material gets tested. We are currently able to reach about the intensity of 10(^22) watt per centimetre squared. That’s a lot of energy. To put it in perspective. you start creating a plasma when intensities hit 10(^12) watt per centimetre squared.
Now consider a laser than can achieve an intensity of 10^(29) watt per centimetre squared. Normally materials cannot survive long enough to focus these levels of intensity. The study proposes using a “Plasma” mirror to serve as the reflecting material for the laser. Plasma is just a gas of conducting electrons. When light hits on it, electrons accelerate back and forth following the direction of light’s electric field. Doing so the electrons absorbs light and emits it back in the opposite direction, like a mirror.
Since plasma is as destroyed as matter can ever be we don’t run the risk of destroying while working on the laser. Initially, it was thought that it would be impossible to create a design using plasma that can focus light. But when these researchers used a supercomputer, it came up with a design that suggests that plasma mirrors are indeed the right solution.
Developments in model code have allowed researchers to create a simulated 3D laser pulse impacting on a surface. The exact science behind how the plasma mirrors help create the laser pulse is described very well in the paper. The theory looks fascinating. Will it work? Maybe we will find out in future.