With the help of the most powerful X-ray laser in the world researchers of the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory of the U.S. Department of Energy have heated a piece of aluminum to a temperature of two million degrees Celsius (3.6 million degrees Fahrenheit). They also managed to verify the temperature achieved. This work could be an important step to a better understanding of nuclear fusion processes that go on in the cores of stars and giant planets like Jupiter.
Up to now it was possible to create plasmas out of gases and study them with conventional lasers, but doing the same thing with solids that laser beams cannot penetrate is new. The Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) is capable of generating very short X-ray pulses. The researchers used these to create a little ‘plasma cube’ with vertexes of about 10 µm and a temperature of two million degrees Celsius.