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A collimated beam of gamma-ray photons could be created by firing intense laser pulses into a specially designed plastic target. That’s the claim of physicists at the University of Texas in Austin, US, whose computer simulations suggest that the electrons liberated when the pulse hits the target are accelerated in zigzag trajectories along magnetic-field lines. The electrons would therefore emit synchrotron radiation in the direction of the laser beam – an effect that could be used to make a pulsed gamma-ray source tens of terawatts in power.

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