Scientists propose revolutionary laser system to produce the next LHC

Mar 28, 2013
Scientists propose revolutionary laser system to produce the next LHC
Principle of a coherent amplifier network. Credit: Nature Photonics 7, 258–261 (2013) doi:10.1038/nphoton.2013.75

An international team of physicists has proposed a revolutionary laser system, inspired by the telecommunications technology, to produce the next generation of particle accelerators, such as the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).

The International Coherent Amplification Network (ICAN) sets out a new composed of massive arrays of thousands of fibre lasers, for both fundamental research at laboratories such as and more applied tasks such as proton therapy and nuclear transmutation.

The results of this study are published today in Nature Photonics.

Lasers can provide, in a very short time measured in femtoseconds, bursts of energy of great power counted in petawatts or a thousand times the power of all the in the world.

Compact accelerators are also of great for applied tasks in medicine, such as a unique way to democratise proton therapy for cancer treatment, or the environment where it offers the prospect to reduce the lifetime of dangerous nuclear waste by, in some cases, from 100 thousand years to tens of years or even less.

However, there are two major hurdles that prevent the high-intensity laser from becoming a viable and widely used technology in the future. First, a high-intensity laser often only operates at a rate of one laser pulse per second, when for practical applications it would need to operate tens of thousands of times per second. The second is ultra-intense lasers are notorious for being very inefficient, producing output powers that are a fraction of a percent of the input power. As practical applications would require output powers in the range of tens of kilowatts to megawatts, it is economically not feasible to produce this power with such a poor efficiency.

This is a fibre drawing tower at ORC. Credit: University of Southampton

To bridge this technology divide, the ICAN consortium, an EU-funded project initiated and coordinated by the École polytechnique and composed of the University of Southampton's Optoelectronics Research Centre, Jena and CERN, as well as 12 other prestigious laboratories around the world, aims to harness the efficiency, controllability, and high average power capability of fibre lasers to produce high energy, high repetition rate pulse sources.

The aim is to replace the conventional single monolithic rod amplifier that typically equips lasers with a network of fibre amplifiers and telecommunication components.

Gérard Mourou of École polytechnique who leads the consortium says: "One important application demonstrated today has been the possibility to accelerate particles to high energy over very short distances measured in centimetres rather than kilometres as it is the case today with conventional technology. This feature is of paramount importance when we know that today high energy physics is limited by the prohibitive size of accelerators, of the size of tens of kilometres, and cost billions of euros. Reducing the size and cost by a large amount is of critical importance for the future of high energy physics."

Dr Bill Brocklesby from the ORC adds: "A typical CAN laser for physics may use thousands of fibres, each carrying a small amount of laser energy. It offers the advantage of relying on well tested telecommunication elements, such as fibre lasers and other components. The fibre laser offers an excellent efficiency due to laser diode pumping. It also provides a much larger surface cooling area and therefore makes possible high repetition rate operation.

"The most stringent difficulty is to phase the lasers within a fraction of a wavelength. This difficulty seemed insurmountable but a major roadblock has in fact been solved: preliminary proof of concept suggests that thousands of fibres can be controlled to provide a laser output powerful enough to accelerate electrons to energies of several GeV at 10 kHz repetition rate - an improvement of at least ten thousand times over today's state of the art lasers."

Such a combined fibre- system should provide the necessary power and efficiency that could make economical the production of a large flux of relativistic protons over millimetre lengths as opposed to a few hundred metres..

One important societal application of such a source is to transmute the waste products of nuclear reactors, which at present have half-lives of hundreds of thousands of years, into materials with much shorter lives, on the scale of tens of years, thus transforming dramatically the problem of nuclear waste management.

CAN technology could also find important applications in areas of medicine, such as , where reliability and robustness of fibre technology could be decisive features.

Explore further: Researchers seek broadband/multiband electromagnetic absorbers based on plasmonic and metamaterial structures

More information: Gérard Mourou, Bill Brocklesby, Toshiki Tajima and Jens Limpert, 'The future is fibre accelerators' Nature Photonics 7, 258–261 (2013) doi:10.1038/nphoton.2013.75

Abstract
Could massive arrays of thousands of fibre lasers be the driving force behind next-generation particle accelerators? The International Coherent Amplification Network project believes so and is currently performing a feasibility study.

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Osiris1
1 / 5 (7) Mar 28, 2013
This may show promise for use in the National Ignition Facility to replace the 192 present laser assemblies with more powerful ones with higher repetition rate described above. Such could ignite smaller hohlraums fired at a faster rate to maintain a fusion burn in a much smaller device. Make a nice rocket for main takeoff and landing in single stage take off and landing shuttlecraft, and main drive for intrasystem travel at constant delta-V of about 1g.
Q-Star
3.5 / 5 (17) Mar 28, 2013
It would be complete waste of money, especially with respect to already smoothly working cold fusion and magnetic motor systems.


If they are already smoothly working, could ya tell where this is working so smoothly? Or is the location a Czech Republic state secret?

We cannot waste huge money and research the futile systems ab nauseum just because some freaks wouldn't get their corresponding jobs otherwise.


"futile systems"? "freaks"? Ya may be on to something Zeph.

From my perspective such an approach is completely absurd from the moment, when we have way simpler, cheaper, scalable, etc. systems of energy production already developed and working for many years.


"we have"? "From my perspective"? "already developed and working for many years"?

Where is this taking place place for many years? Oh, that's right a Czech state secret, right?

By the By: Zephyr, do ya ever sleep?
El_Nose
4.7 / 5 (7) Mar 28, 2013
@Osiris

I gave you a one because the the usage of lasers at the NIF is to hit the pellet from all sides and keep the reaction stable in the middle of the chamber, not just hit it with a laser been and achieve fusion.

@natello

There is no such thing as a smoothly working cold fusion -- why would particle physicists research fusion?? or motors... stop trying to hijack the article
Q-Star
3.6 / 5 (14) Mar 28, 2013
there is no such thing as a smoothly working cold fusion -- why would particle physicists research fusion?
Try to explain, why so many patents are http://www.newsci...be.html? Which extragalactic planet are you coming from?


Aah, Zeph, with all due respect. Nothing in those links says anything about "smoothly working cold fusion". Nothing in those links says anything about roughly working cold fusion. Uut oh, nothing in those links says anything at all about cold fusion.

So back at ya, "Which extragalactic planet are you" getting the news about "smoothing working cold fusion" from? If it's "smoothly working", then it is "smoothly working" SOMEWHERE. Where?
Arcbird
1 / 5 (13) Mar 28, 2013
So sad seeing so much resources and time being put to building futile accelerators. Maybe they should focus on some real physics instead -.-
mb9
3.9 / 5 (8) Mar 28, 2013
"...as well as 12 other prestigious laboratories around the world"

You gotta love how it always needs to be mentioned how the labs and academic institutions involved are 'prestigious'. As if science may only be referred to as science when some 'star' principal investigators are involved. As if truth only surfaces if, and only if, one displays enough prestige, titles, awards or badges.
Q-Star
3.5 / 5 (11) Mar 28, 2013
@QStar: we have many scientific publications, according to which the cold fusion (the evolution of heat of non-chemical nature in particular) is smoothly running effect.


Zephyr, smoothly running for years is just a tad different than "according to which". I ask where they have been running smoothly for years.

Now our priority should be to attempt in replication of these publications,


Well then, get yourself a copy of the pertinent issue, and if ya don't have your own copier, head on down to the local Kinko's (or whatever name it goes by in the Czech Republic).
Q-Star
3.5 / 5 (14) Mar 28, 2013
I ask where they have running smoothly.
For example, prof. Hagelstein at MIT is running cold fusion experiments during his MIT lectures during last two years. They're opened for public so you can visit them and make sure for yourself..


Uh Zeph, ya need to keep abreast of these things. Those WERE demonstrations of he THOUGHT the thing MIGHT look like if just ONE more problem were solved. No one has been able to (re)produce cold fusion using methods.

Nice try, but it's a poor example of "smoothly working for years".
Lurker2358
1.3 / 5 (12) Mar 28, 2013
When someone invents a practical application for the Higgs Boson, or some other "-on" which has been recently discovered in an accelerator, then I'll support the next accelerator project.

As it is, the only particles commonly used in other fields of science, technology, or medicine, are the Proton, Neutron, and Electron. Nobody uses a Neutrino scanner or a B-Meson machine in any "Normal" application, except alleged particle physics "research".

Oh yeah, anti-matter is sort of used only because some nuclear reactions incidentally produce positrons which annihilate, and existing anti-matter research is probably pointless, since I can't imagine how you could ever build a safe and economical storage facility, and "making" anti-matter costs more energy than you get back out of the process anyway.

So with the exception of 3 sub-atomic particles, none of it has ever been put to practical use, in spite of many tens of billions of dollars total invested in it over entire generations...
Pressure2
2.8 / 5 (8) Mar 28, 2013
A question for you, natello. Assuming cold fusion works, one could explain where the energy would come from but where would the energy a magnetic motor produces come from?
Etreum
1 / 5 (6) Mar 28, 2013
@ Natello:

Agree. A proper name for cold fusion is LENR (Lattice Enabled Nuclear Reactions, and/or Low Energy Nuclear Reactions. It is a scientific fact that it is a reality, and commercialization will start by the end of this month, household and motive devices will take a few more years.
grondilu
not rated yet Mar 28, 2013
The idea of transmutation to get rid of nuclear waste seems... odd.
Assuming at least one proton is needed to transmute a single nucleus, such a method would be terribly inefficient. This proton at relativistic speed represents a relatively huge amount of energy, so in order to transmute a macroscopic amount of material, the total energy would be astronomical.
Unless some kind of a virtuous chain reaction can be found (a nuclear chain reaction that would be both armless and "cleanifying"), it's hopeless, isn't it?
Moebius
1 / 5 (1) Mar 28, 2013
The first accelerator would fit on your hand. It would be ironic if we could duplicate the LHC in a lab soon.
Pkunk_
1.7 / 5 (6) Mar 28, 2013
The only kind of fusion which has been verified to run "smoothly" is the kind which takes place in a hydrogen bomb.
ValeriaT
1 / 5 (5) Mar 28, 2013
where would the energy a magnetic motor produces come from
IMO Magnetic motors work with ferromagnetic material in highly saturated state, which doesn't attract magnet in very high force. The desaturation of ferromagnet would increase the magnetic force and it therefore can create an usable work. The trick is, the dispersing of magnetic domains into their equilibrium state is assisted with vacuum fluctuations. For a brief moment of time during desaturation of ferromagnet we can therefore drain the energy from dispersing of oriented magnetic domains inside of saturated ferromagnet. It's violation of entropic time arrow, which works only because the magnetic domains are largest and most energetic quantum objects (spin condensate), stable at room temperatures and their dispersing is time-reversed process assisted with scalar waves of vacuum.
ValeriaT
1 / 5 (4) Mar 28, 2013
and commercialization will start by the end of this month
From where you got such an information? Of course, at the moment, when first cold fusion unit will be sold at public and its performance will be freely accessible for doubters, it will trigger an avalanche of investments into it. But IMO A.Rossi completely sold out the control over his cold fusion technology to the U.S. government, the Defense Department.Cold fusion reactors (5-10 kW) by A.Rossi for the lay public have been delayed "due to" the efforts of the industrial department of certification of these reactors. It will be dragged on as long as the U.S. does not reach the point of dominance in military and industrial sectors over the rest of the world thanks to the cold fusion technologies.
ValeriaT
1 / 5 (4) Mar 28, 2013
A proper name for cold fusion is LENR (Lattice Enabled Nuclear Reactions, and/or Low Energy Nuclear Reactions
IMO from entropic perspective the cold fusion is really a fusion - just not the fusion of two equally sized atom nuclei, but a fusion of tiny proton with large nickel nuclei. But the source of energy is the same in both cases: the decreasing of the total surface/volume ratio with reaction products.

IMO the main reason of attempts for relabeling of cold fusion is just the covering of the fact, the VERY SAME principle was ignored for twenty years (if not seventy years) with mainstream physics. It's merely an attempt for reseting of history, because the majority of layman people are stupid trolls, who just believe the scientists like the priests and who don't remember even the few years old history - so they cannot learn from it.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.5 / 5 (8) Mar 28, 2013
I'm not sure, that the inertial fusion will ever work due to trivial Lawson's criterion
We dont 'need' inertial confinement fusion, we need the tech and we need the knowledge. One can imagine future applications for converging lasers and particle beams which aren't intended to produce commercial power or even fusion itself. Spacecraft propulsion is one such application.
As it is, the only particles commonly used in other fields of science, technology, or medicine, are the Proton, Neutron, and Electron
-And yet these all get their mass from the Higgs. So in order to understand them more completely, we now have the Higgs
existing anti-matter research is probably pointless, since I can't imagine how you could ever build a safe and economical storage facility, and "making" anti-matter costs more energy than you get back out of the process anyway
Ever hear of a PET scan? We already use antimatter. Can you imagine similar uses? Luckily others can, and will.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.6 / 5 (7) Mar 28, 2013
The only kind of fusion which has been verified to run "smoothly" is the kind which takes place in a hydrogen bomb
Yeah. And if you had done only a little research you would have found out that we routinely use 'smooth' fusion in commercial neutron generators.
http://en.wikiped...enerator
Silverhill
5 / 5 (5) Mar 28, 2013
@Arcbird
...futile accelerators. Maybe they should focus on some real physics instead
According to a story about Michael Faraday, when Queen Victoria visited his lab she asked, "Of what use is this new science of electricity?"
He answered, "Madam, of what use is a new-born baby?"

(Accelerator physics and the like is not inherently futile or non-real.)

@grondilu
The idea of transmutation to get rid of nuclear waste seems... odd.
Assuming at least one proton is needed to transmute a single nucleus, such a method would be terribly inefficient. This proton at relativistic speed represents a relatively huge amount of energy, so in order to transmute a macroscopic amount of material, the total energy would be astronomical.
Even 1 GeV protons carry less than 10^-9 J each; not an astronomical amount, even with large numbers of protons per application.
High-energy neutrons emitted by fission reactors can also be used to transmute wastes into short-lived isotopes.
ValeriaT
1 / 5 (4) Mar 29, 2013
Accelerator physics and the like is not inherently futile or non-real
Accelerator physics is not new born baby - it's here for fifty years and still it has no usage yet. With compare to it the cold fusion and LENR research proposes the utilization immediately.
grondilu
5 / 5 (1) Mar 29, 2013
Even 1 GeV protons carry less than 10^-9 J each; not an astronomical amount, even with large numbers of protons per application.


If you want to transmute a macroscopic amount of material, you need to multiply these 10^-9 J by a number of the magnitude order of a mole, i.e. about 10^21. Then you do get astronomical amounts. Now, I guess a nuclear waste is not full of radioactive nuclei, but even if one out of a thousand is radioactive, it is still an enormous amount of atoms to transmute.
In other words, it's just as if you had to accelerate as many atoms of hydrogen to relativistic speed as you have atoms of nuclear waste to transmute. It's seems insanely expensive.
ThePaladin
3.7 / 5 (6) Mar 30, 2013
Why is this comment thread full of waffle about cold fusion? There is no secret that is being kept from the mass populace because of oil companies or something ridiculous. It just doesn't work and invariably is the domain of quacks with fake PhDs or deluded physicists who believe their own nonsensical maths.

We're having enough trouble getting hot fusion working (Rayleigh Taylor instabilities in ICF, neutron bombardment/Q factor in MCF) without quacks babbling on about a version of fusion that doesn't work at all.

I find it very funny that someone babbling on about cold bloody fusion is having a go at accelerator scientists. I don't know what level of physics you lot are at but if you are working scientists I hope to hell no grant committee gives you the time of day.
ThePaladin
5 / 5 (3) Mar 30, 2013
As for potential uses, nuclear transmutation is one. Thin foil RPA suggests you can use them to produce neutron flux (10^8-10^9 neutrons from a PW laser pulse). Laser wakefield accelerators also allow for short term ponderomotive acceleration at much higher field intensities than are currently available through klystrons. The main issue, as always, is contamination of the plasma, pulse length, laser refire rate (as an example, Vulcan PW in Rutherford Appleton Labs has a refire rate of 1 shot per 20 minutes) and what the hell to do with the particles afterwards.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.7 / 5 (6) Mar 30, 2013
I find it very funny that someone babbling on about cold bloody fusion is having a go at accelerator scientists. I don't know what level of physics you lot are at but if you are working scientists I hope to hell no grant committee gives you the time of day
That's ok NASA is fortunately adequately funded:
http://www.gizmag...r/26309/

-Your opinions are based on outdated info. I suggest you spend a little time catching up.
EyeNStein
1 / 5 (3) Mar 30, 2013
All we actually need is a way to make accelerated protons hit each other directly head on instead of glancing blows (which richochet off due to EM replulsion). Then these 'toy sized' accelerators would easily power two colliding proton beams to make fusion happen efficiently on a tabletop, if the particle/wavefunction researchers will get a tight enough beam control in at least two dimentions to do this efficiently.
ValeriaT
2 / 5 (4) Mar 30, 2013
The collisions of protons are possible even without accelerators in Hirsch-Farnsworth fuzor, but their acceleration requires more energy, then it's released with their fusion (not to say about energy which is actually captured). Too many protons are wasted during head-head collisions, because they simply miss each other.
Whydening Gyre
1 / 5 (4) Mar 30, 2013
I'm just sittin' here, doin' the neutron dance...
EyeNStein
1 / 5 (3) Mar 31, 2013
"They simply miss each other"
Exactly my point: IF they did not then you only need a desktop sized 100keV accelerator. Which is much easier than a tokamak the size of a house.
If we could successfully enginer quantum wavefunctions then we could taylor the beamshape for more precise collisions. (Of course all we can do at present is use wavefunction interferernce to cause some maxima and minima in the beam. (2 slit experiment)
And yes I realise how many big IF's there were in this comment!
EyeNStein
1 / 5 (3) Apr 01, 2013
Still 1/5? -- Let me put this in words of fewer syllables for you.
A nano scale electrostatic grid (2D Crystal lattice or metamaterial) could cause two diffuse particle beams (Which otherwise mostly miss each other) to have maxima (points of localised high intensity) corresponding to the maxima of the particle beam coming the other way. I agree its difficult to get the size of the maxima spots down to near the scale of the particle impact cross section. But the very high fusion gain from 100keV input energy to 17MeV output energy mean it doesn't need to be exact!
I agree its very much a new concept but its more interesting than arguing over existing tech. If this beam 'wavefunction-focusing' technique could be applied to a pollywell type IEC fusion device it may gain enough 'gain' to reach break even.
Must be worth a 2/5 at least ;-)
Osiris1
1 / 5 (1) Apr 02, 2013
They are taking high efficiency fiber lasers, grouping them like the eye of a fly, and feeding the output to even MORE lasers downstream by phasing the energy a quarter wavelength apart. This is the heart and soul of a phaser......Star Trek style. They have just made another piece of Trekkie Tech real, the phaser. However there will be no 'stun' setting. These phasers will burn like hell fire. I can smell the interest of the military. As an Air Force vet, I can smell it myself. Such would be verrrrry welcome as another force resource in any pilot's cockpit.
Whydening Gyre
1 / 5 (2) Apr 02, 2013
IMHO, a possible reason "cold fusion" is rarely replicable is - it is POV specific. For whatever reason SOMETHING (magnetics, gravity, temperature, what lab coat you are wearing, whatever...) variable causes differences in operability. Find out what that is - make it tunable - and you may solve your problem.
jibbles
not rated yet Apr 02, 2013
and i'm thinking ... could you use this tech for high efficiency "proton impulse" propulsion?