Transparent Aluminum: From Star Trek to Nuclear Fusion?

DN Staff

August 3, 2009

1 Min Read
Transparent Aluminum: From Star Trek to Nuclear Fusion?

Do you think all of the wizardry in Star Trek IV was special effects? Not any more. A new article in the journal Nature Physics reports that scientists at Oxford University created transparent aluminum by bombarding the metal with the world’s most powerful soft X-ray laser. A short pulse from the FLASH laser knocked out a core electron from every aluminum atom without affecting the metal’s crystalline structure. This made the aluminum nearly invisible to extreme ultraviolet radiation.

And so why does it matter?

“Transparent aluminum is just the start,” says Professor Justin Wark of Oxford University’s Department of Physics, one of the authors of the paper.  ”The physical properties of the matter we are creating are relevant to the conditions inside large planets, and we also hope that by studying it we can gain a greater understanding of what is going on during the creation of ‘miniature stars’ created by high-power laser implosions, which may one day allow the power of nuclear fusion to be harnessed here on Earth.”

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