Scientists in Britain in the quest of finding answers about our universe are on the verge of creating a laser so powerful that it can almost tear up the space apart. The Large Hadron collider created for the same purpose seems not as fulfilling to scientists to cure their hunger for knowledge.
According to the researchers working on this new project, the new laser would be able to beam a light so intense that it would equal the amount of the energy our Earth receives from the Sun. The intensity of the light beam would be so strong that it will suffice in boiling the vacuum present in our space where Earth is present.
Stereotypes suggest that a vacuum consist of no particle whatsoever, but that is not the truth. Vacuum do have tiny little particles that can jump in and out of existence at high speeds that also account for their undiscovered factor. However, according to scientists the new laser will emit such intense beam of light that these ghost particles for the first time will become visible (to such sensors fabricated to detect them).
Professor John Collier describes the project named ELI and says,
This laser will be 200 times more powerful than the most powerful lasers that currently exist, At this kind of intensity we start to get into unexplored territory as it is an area of physics that we have never been before.
The cost of this project is about 1 billion pounds (about $1.6 billion) and due to complete by 2020 — location to be decided by the next year.
The authenticity of this plan comes from European Commission’s approval of building three different archetype lasers for the ELI Ultra-High Field Laser project. These three lasers will be produced in Romania, the Czech Republic and Hungary and are to cost about 200 million pounds each.
These prototype lasers will help in building an even bigger laser that will actually be twice as powerful as archetypes. The ELI Ultra-High Field will consist of ten such powerful lasers, which will concentrate their beams on a single point to produce about 200 petawatts of energy (twice the energy consumed on Earth) for almost a trillionth of a second. We propose that the amount needed to fire the lasers will possibly not be available even in 2020; hence, the proposed solution to this problem is storing energy so that it is readily available when it is needed.
At the focus point of the ten lasers scientists believe that the intensity of the light will be so strong that such extreme condition will produce that are not even present in the centre of the Sun. The result of such conditions would be the separation of matter and antimatter particles, which create the vacuum that will allow the scientist to examine any electrical charge they possess or produce.
The ghost particles said to be the components of vacuum almost annihilate each other so that they exist for a very small time. ELI will create such conditions so that these particles exist for a longer period so that they can be easily detected.
Coordinator of the Laserlab Europe network and president of the German Physics Society Professor Wolfgang Sandner explains this project as,
We are taught to think of the vacuum as empty space, but it seems even a true vacuum is filled with pairs of molecules that come into our universe for an extremely short time.
An extremely powerful laser should be able to pull these particles apart and keep them in existence for longer.
While explaining some of the difficulties for the start of ELI project Professor Sandner says,
There are many challenges to be over come before we can do that, but it is mainly a matter of scaling up the technology we have so we can produce the powers needed.
Britain’s Science and Technology Facilities Council, which approves such projects has marked ELI Ultra-High Field Project as an important one; one that the council will extend its funds to.
Scientists at Rutherford Appleton Laboratories’ Centre for Advanced Laser Technology in Dicot, Oxfordshire have already started developing technologies for creating such large lasers. This centre is one of the proposed sites for the ELI project but it also faces competition from countries such as Russia, France, Czech Republic and Romania.
Defining new possibilities for this project Dr. Thomas Heinzi from the Plymouth University said,
ELI is going to take us into an uncharted regime of physics. There could well be some surprises along the way.
Some scientist also believe that apart from performing extreme applications this might also be used to find laser based treatments for diseases such as cancer and will also help in diagnostics.