Lasers: electron accelerator, microcombs and ring gyroscope
At the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in Menlo Park, California, the world’s longest linear accelerator will record chemical reactions in unprecedented detail. It is a modernised X-ray laser that produces one million X-ray pulses per second. The 3 km long LCLS-II will enable the creation of videos showing ultrafast processes at the atomic level, such as electric charges jumping around atoms during a chemical reaction. Such research can help discover the secrets of photosynthesis and develop new materials for computer systems.
Scientists used a ring laser gyroscope to measure changes of less than one-millionth of a per cent in the rate of Earth’s rotation, translating into the length of Earth’s days. Their work could help us understand the complex flows of water and air on our planet that cause minute changes in its spin and improve models of air circulation and ocean currents. The gyroscope, known as “G”, is located at the Wettzell Geodetic Observatory in Germany.
Researchers from the Swedish Chalmers University of Technology have developed a technology thanks to which the so-called laser micro combs are ten times more efficient. This breakthrough opens the way to discoveries in space and healthcare and enables the use of high-performance lasers in many other technologies. Micro combs can be used, among others, to discover planets outside the solar system and diagnose human diseases.