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Tightening the Beam: Correspondence on PROCSIMA

5 Apr 2018, 12:23 UTC
Tightening the Beam: Correspondence on PROCSIMA
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

Yesterday’s post on PROCSIMA (Photon-paRticle Optically Coupled Soliton Interstellar Mission Accelerator) has been drawing a good deal of comment, and I wanted to dig deeper into the concept this morning by presenting some correspondence between plasma physicist Jim Benford, a familiar face on Centauri Dreams, and PROCSIMA’s creator, Chris Limbach (Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station). As we saw yesterday, PROCSIMA goes to work on the problem of beam spread in both laser and particle beam propulsion concepts.
In my own email exchange with Dr. Limbach, he took note of the comments to yesterday’s Centauri Dreams article, with a useful nod to a concept called ‘optical tweezers’ that may be helpful. So let me start with his message of April 4, excerpting directly from the text:

I took a quick glance at the comments, and I see that the laser guiding (i.e. waveguide) effect is fairly well understood, but the guiding of the particles is less clear. I admit this is the less intuitive aspect and the weak interaction requires special consideration in the combined beam design. But to give a general sense, we are taking advantage of the same effect as optical tweezers (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Optical_tweezers) except applied on the level of ...

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