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Extreme Physics by Jon Larsen, Jeff Colvin

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3 Laser energy absorption in matter

We learned in Chapter 1 that there are two principal ways to add energy to matter to bring the matter up to high temperature and pressure: via absorption of energy from an incident particle or photon beam, or via high-velocity collision with other matter. As for the first mechanism – absorption of energy from an incident particle or photon beam – we also learned in Chapter 1 that it is much easier to focus a photon beam to very high energy density since photons, being electrically neutral, are not subject to the Coulomb forces that act to push apart the charged particles making up an electron or ion beam. Accordingly, lasers are commonly used to create extreme conditions in matter. Indeed, lasers can create ...

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