Since 1845, Lord Kelvin’s discovery of how electrically neutral materials can be moved by electric fields has formed the basis of plasma theory. This force of ponderomotion is nonlinear, as it combines mechanical macroscopic forces with quadratic terms of the force quantities of electric and magnetic fields. It has now been shown that this is interwoven with electron clouds as seen in the Boreham experiment, the Umstadter experiment, and in the particle-in-cell (PIC) computations where electric double layers appear as a Debye sheath in the target normal sheath acceleration (TNSA). It should be noted, however, that there is a basic difference in the optical properties of the forces defined by laser fields in contrast to the sheath layer of plasma boundaries (Snavely et al. 2000). This is the topic of the new Chapter 7.
Along with subsection 6.3, this new Chapter 7 shows how the nonlinearity principle is compatible with fundamentals of physics as described by Richard Feynman, thereby dispelling any concerns about the saturation or end of physics, and showing instead that nonlinearity is opening a new dimension of physical knowledge.
This leads into a new Chapter 8, which discusses the measurements of ultrahigh acceleration of plasma blocks first experimentally verified by Sauerbrey (1996) and Földes et al. (2000), proving numerical predictions from 1978 (Hora 1981). Such measurements were made possible by the work of Mourou and collaborators since 1986 on laser CPA (chirped pulse amplification). The 1978 theory predicted that the ultrafast accelerated plasma blocks contained (space-charge neutralized) ultrahigh ion current densities (Hora et al. 2002) a million times higher than accelerators could produce. So instead of using huge accelerators, such ions in the 100 MeV range could lead to an important new application that is independent of nuclear fusion: very compact hadron therapy for cancer (Banati et al. 2014).
This second edition presents several specific insights into the breadth of developments during the 15 years since the first edition’s publication.
A new Chapter 9 addresses how ultrahigh accelerated plasma blocks driven by the nonlinear force can be applied to laser ignition of controlled nuclear fusion. The chapter also integrates the two appendices of the first edition. It clarifies how laser-driven fusion with nanosecond (ns) pulses using thermal processes for heating, compressing, and igniting fusion fuel differs from picosecond (ps) and shorter laser pulse interaction for realizing the complex systems of the contrary thermal processes. It describes how to arrive at non-thermal direct conversion of laser pulse energy into macroscopic mechanical energy of motion by ultrahigh acceleration, described in terms of complex systems by Lord May of Oxford (May 1972) and a basic note by Edward Teller (2001) in Chapter 1.
This all culminates in Chapter 10 with an exploration of the new possibilities gained by fast ignition of laser fusion as envisioned by Campbell (2006) in 1991 and formulated by Tabak et al. (1994). The result is rather interesting because it shows how fusion is possible beyond the usual fuel of deuterium-tritium (DT). It is now possible to burn protons with boron-11 (HB11) where the generation of very dangerous nuclear radiation can be ignored, because it is no more dangerous than from burning coal. Finally, producing magnetic fields in the range of 10 kilotesla may provide the potential for developing power stations where picosecond (ps) laser pulses with power no more than a few dozens of petawatts (PW) are needed. These pulses are likely to be developed in the near future for many other important basic applications aside from fusion energy, led by the work of Mourou (Mourou et al. 2014; 2014a). This is described at the beginning of the new Chapter 8.
The first edition of this book covered the fundamental physics of the past. In this new edition, we turn our attention to research covering a wide field of unexplored phenomena, thereby changing the character of this book. While these explorations are connected to classical knowledge, including Richard Feynman’s thoughts on the Nonlinearity Principle (Section 6.3), there are a number of new points requiring clarification. These may offer fascinating insights into the exploration of physics in general, as well as into the production of safe, clean, and low-cost energy in the near term.
During the production of this book, several new results were reported and incorporated into this text, such as the experimental discovery of the super- high gains of the proton-boron fusion HB11 by Picciotto et al. (2014) and highlighted by Korn et al. (2014a). This lead to the combination with block ignition and cylindrical trapping by ultrahigh magnetic fields (Lalousis et al. 2014a), and then to a clarification of the avalanche ignition of HB11 (Hora et al. 2015a), presenting a possible option for absolutely clean, sustainable and low-cost boron fusion energy.
The enthusiasm for finalizing the production of this book by SPIE under Nicole Harris’s editorial attention is very gratefully acknowledged.Heinrich Hora
Sydney, August 2015