The experiment being proposed by physicists is supposed to be strong enough to produce a beam of light so powerful that it will be equivalent to the light the earth receives from the sun but focused on a speck smaller than a pin.
“This laser will be 200 times more powerful than the most powerful lasers that currently exist,” said Professor John Collier, a scientific leader for the ELI project and director of the Central Laser Facility at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Didcot.
The scientists said The ELI Ultra-High Field laser could allow them to boil the very fabric of space – the vacuum.
Opposite to popular belief, a vacuum doesn’t have the material but, in fact, fizzles with tiny mysterious particles that pop in and out of existence, but at speeds so fast that no one has been able to prove they exist.
The Extreme Light Infrastructure Ultra-High Field Facility is going to produce a laser quite intense that it would allow them to reveal these particles for the first time by pulling this vacuum “fabric” apart.
“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,” said Prof. Collier.
The development of the laser is to be complete by the end of the decade and its average cost will be about £1 billion.
The future location for the facility is not to be decided until next year, nevertheless, the Great Britain is being among a number of European countries who want to host it on its territory.
The European Commission also plans to build three other lasers. This will form part of the ELI project and will be prototypes for the Ultra-High Field laser.
The device will work in the next way: the ultra-high field laser will be made up of 10 beams which is much more powerful than the prototype lasers did.
It will also produce about 200 petawatts of power – more than 100,000 times the power of the world’s combined electricity production but in less than a trillionth a second.
The amounts of energy required for power will be stored up before and then used to produce a beam lights several feet wide which will then be combined and eventually focused down onto a tiny spot.
The intensity of the beam will so powerful and will produce such extreme conditions, that do not even observed in the centre of the sun.
Professor Wolfgang Sandner, president of the German Physics Society, said: “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.”
“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.”
Experts hope the breakthrough will allow them to find out the way particles inside an atom behave and why the universe contains more matter than previously detected by revealing what dark matter really is. [Via The Telegraph and Daily Mail (UK)]