Watch World’s Most Powerful X-ray Laser Blowing Up Water Droplets

Posted: May 25 2016, 6:28am CDT | by , Updated: May 25 2016, 10:05pm CDT, in News | Latest Science News

 
Watch World’s Powerful X-ray Laser Blowing Up Water Droplets
This illustration shows how an ultrabright X-ray laser pulse (orange beam) rips apart a liquid jet (blue). SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

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This is the first time when a movie shows how a drop of liquid explodes after being struck by an extremely powerful X-ray pulse.

View of exploding droplets cannot get better than that.

Researchers from SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory at Stanford University have used the world’s most powerful X-ray laser to blow up liquid droplets and caught the glimpses of this process in an unprecedented detail.

This is the first time when liquid droplets are being filmed while getting vaporized by extremely bright, fast flashes of laser, revealing the details of the process at atomic level. The making of the movies was made possible through an ultrafast optical laser and a high resolution microscope that enabled researchers to capture the exact moment when laser beam hit the drop and showed in details how this explosive interaction unfolds.

“Thanks to a special imaging system developed for this purpose, we were able to record these movies for the first time,” said co-author Sébastien Boutet. “We used an ultrafast optical laser like a strobe light to illuminate the explosion, and made images with a high-resolution microscope that is suitable for use in the vacuum chamber where the X-rays hit the sample.”

The movies are not made in one go. They are developed by stringing hundreds of snapshots together and each snapshot represents a timeframe of five billions of a second to one ten thousand of a second when laser contacts the sample of liquid droplets.

“Understanding the dynamics of these explosions will allow us to avoid their unwanted effects on samples,” said Claudiu Stan. “It could also help us find new ways of using explosions caused by X-rays to trigger changes in samples and study matter under extreme conditions. These studies could help us better understand a wide range of phenomena in X-ray science and other applications.”

In the video, a drop of liquid is clearly seen being ripped apart by an X-ray pulse. Then, it generates the clouds of small particles which gradually extend to the neighboring drops and damage them.

This novel experiment will help scientists understand how X-ray beam could respond during laser experiments and how to control their effects.

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