Laser driven material stress testing
Researchers have recently invented and developed a new laser-driven technique able to perform stress test on materials that are employed in very harsh conditions (e.g. nuclear power reactors, ICF-MCF facilities, etc.). The technology relies on the use of particles (such as protons, neutrons and electrons, X-rays and gamma-rays) that are accelerated using high-power lasers.
The methods for stress testing currently available yield partial information on the changes of the material properties, require long exposure times, are complex to model computationally and fail to reproduce real operational environments. The authors provide experimental evidence that laser-driven particle acceleration, obtained by irradiation of a solid target using an ultra-intense (I > 10^18 W/cm^2) short-pulse (duration <1 ps) can be used for stress testing materials and are particularly suited for identifying materials to be used in harsh conditions. They show that laser-generated protons can produce, in a very short time scale, a strong mechanical and thermal damage, that, given the short irradiation time, does not allow for recovery of the material. The induced damage on the material is identical to that produced by several months of exposure to hard conditions. They confirm this by analyzing changes in the mechanical, optical, electrical, and morphological properties of five materials of interest to be used in harsh conditions.
- In many domains characterized by exposure to high energy where materials are subjected to intense stress: aerospace, nuclear power plants, certain research equipment, etc.
- Much faster, since it can be performed with a few single sub-ps laser-shots;
- More efficient, since it is able to reproduce a considerable typical operational time;
- More compact and more accessible since the method can be performed using a table-top high-power laser;
- More versatile, since it allows stress tests in various conditions.