Intense light from the Petawatt laser, the world's most powerful laser at Livermore, USA, has been directed onto a thin gold film where it creates a plasma plume that acts as an accelerator. In particular, the laser electric fields rip electrons from the gold atoms and send the electrons shooting off with energies as high as 100 MeV (million electron volts). Some of these electrons radiate gamma rays, which in turn can create electron-positron pairs (the first antimatter made in laser-solid interactions) and can also induce fission. Moreover, the femtosecond (a millionth billionth of a second) laser pulses can be focused on a spot much smaller than previously possible with any conventional particle beam.
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