technical challenges

To achieve XProLas' goals, the team will need to solve several scientific and technical challenges, Mance said. The main goal is to “create an X-ray source with approximately an order of magnitude greater brightness compared to the state-of-the-art,” he explained. X-rays are needed to analyze and determine the composition of cathode materials, which are critical to the performance and reliability of EV batteries. Professor Manns said that synchrotrons, where such research is currently being conducted, produce the brightest radiation sources and are developing new X-ray techniques, “but synchrotrons are not suitable for real-world applications. No,” he added.

The X-ray source developed by XProLas will produce a brightness considerably lower than that provided by synchrotrons, but “10 times higher than what we have been able to obtain to date.” [outside a synchrotron]”

Starting with advances in laser technology, “accelerating electrons within a target material requires creating a relativistic intensity; specifically about 1018 It’s more than just watts per square centimeter,” Manns explained. “At the same time, we do this at average power levels of kilowatts, which has never been done before, so it's a scientific challenge.”

To achieve this, TRUMPF plans to start with a kilowatt average power laser source with sub-picosecond pulses, which are too long to produce the necessary relativistic intensities. “So we add Herriot cells, a technology that can broaden the spectrum and produce shorter pulse durations,” Manns said.

He added that the use of pulsed lasers is a unique approach to creating an X-ray source, and the team could run into problems with pulsed lasers, and possibly with the detectors as a result.

Another challenge is developing targets that are instantly vaporized with relativistic intensities and kilowatts of average power. “We're going to have some serious problems with debris, so we need to somehow shield the focusing optics and the windows to get the lasers in and the X-rays out,” Manns said. . “Beam positioning is also very problematic. We need a very stable surface of the liquid metal, but a high average power laser with a pulse repetition rate of 100 kHz will disturb the surface.”

Additionally, developing new X-ray optics that can take full advantage of the enhanced brightness is a technical challenge that arises in applications that use the extra radiation produced.

“So, in each part of the chain, [there are] We have some pretty significant challenges, but I think we've got a really good team and I'm pretty confident that everyone can solve their part of the problem,'' Manns concluded. “But it remains a high-risk research project.”

Beyond EV battery testing

Although XProLas is initially focused on applications within battery production, its potential impact could be seen in other applications, such as pharmaceutical companies requiring higher resolution in drug development or semiconductor manufacturers seeking to optimize production processes. This also extends to applications.

Additionally, by making compact X-ray sources available to manufacturers, the project will move experiments previously limited to synchrotrons to individual company laboratories, allowing researchers to perform a fraction of the cost. Perform in-depth analysis on scale and cost to help accelerate the pace of innovation.

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