May 24 (UPI) -- Scientists in Japan have come up with a new mechanism for particle acceleration. Researchers at Osaka University dubbed the laser-powered mechanism "micro-bubble implosion."
The technique uses high-energy laser pulses to irradiate tiny bubbles composed of hydrides. As the bubbles are squeezed together, high-energy hydrogen ions are released.
The method manages to shrink the nanoscale clusters to an unprecedented degree. The density of the remaining compacted bubbles is the equivalent a sugar cube of matter weighing more than 220 pounds.
Scientists detailed their new particle acceleration technique this week in the journal Scientific Reports.
"The innermost protons accumulate at the center with a density comparable to the interior of a white dwarf," researchers wrote in the newly published paper.
During the implosion, the ions move toward a single, central point at approximately half the speed of light. This unique phenomenon, which scientists liken to the reverse of the Big Bang, is different than previous particle-acceleration mechanisms.
Unlike other particle-acceleration processes, micro-bubble implosion requires less space and energy. If scientists can standardize the method, the breakthrough could allow for the proliferation of experiments using particle acceleration.
"This new concept will clarify unknown space physics of grand scales of time and space, such as the origins of high-energy protons moving about in stars and space," researchers wrote in a news release. "In addition, as a compact source of neutron radiation through nuclear fusion, this concept will be utilized in a variety of applications in medical treatment."