Research

When Lasers Strike

Lasers are a great way to deliver a lot of energy very quickly. In this animation, you see a jet of water get struck by a pulse from a powerful X-ray laser. The energy from that laser pulse gets absorbed by the water in a matter of picoseconds – that’s trillionths of a second. All that energy in so little time makes the water vaporize explosively. It’s this vapor explosion that breaks the jet in two. As the vapor expands outward, it forces water from the jet into a thin film that forms a cone. The conical film bends back on itself until it strikes the jet and coalesces. For more, check out this video of a similar experiment that looked at laser impacts on droplets. (Image credit: C. Stan et al., from Supplementary Movie 5; via Gizmodo)

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