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Laser Accelerating

  1. Nov 26, 2014 #1
    So I'm just asking a hypothetical question here, just looking for insight on something I'm thinking about really.

    Scientists are able to reach almost absolute zero by slowing the movement of particles with lasers. So I was thinking, is the inverse possible?

    If a laser was to strike incident to a particle would the force be able to accelerate the particle? If so would it only be a single particle or would it be multiple?

    Again, just knowledge for knowledge's sake. Thanks guys!
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 26, 2014 #2

    Simon Bridge

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    Yes - light carries momentum so what it hits gains momentum by the usual conservation laws.
    It works for macroscopic objects as well as individual particles, and has been used for propulsion.
  4. Dec 5, 2014 #3


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    In this type of situation, in practice it's not helpful to think of the laser as a stream of photons but rather a classical EM wave. From this point of view, its known as an inverse Free-Electron Laser (in an FEL, energy is transferred from electrons to a laser, so inverse indicates the opposite direction of energy flow).
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