Golden award for the research assignment titled Laser acceleration of substance

date: 13.06.2018

category: Sporočila za javnost


Within the framework of cooperation between the Bežigrad Gymnasium and the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering of the University of Ljubljana, student Natan Dominiko Kobilica developed a research assignment titled Laser acceleration of substance in the Laboratory for laser techniques, mentored by doc. dr. Peter Gregorčič and co-mentored by Peter Gabrovec (Bežigrad Gymnasium). The assignment was shortlisted for the 52th meeting of young researchers which took place on 14 May 2018 in Murska Sobota. The student received a golden award for the best high-school assignment in the Astronomy and physics category at the Zotka's talents event for 2018, which took place in Cankarjev dom on 9 June.

From early on, students are being introduced to scientific research work, thus starting to learn about different methodological approaches. Research assignments comprise both theoretical and empirical research work. Over 200 research assignments were shortlisted for the 52nd meeting of young researchers of Slovenia, organised by the Association for Technical Culture of Slovenia. The research paper titled Laser acceleration of substance, awarded with the highest Gold award, represents an important step towards the research of laser space propulsions. This award is a confirmation of successful cooperation between the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering of the University of Ljubljana and the Bežigrad Gymnasium and is a demonstration of openness of the Faculty for new research projects involving young people who are interested in new knowledge in the field of technology and science.

In addition to theoretical knowledge, the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering provided the student Natan Dominiko Kobilica the opportunity to conduct the empirical work in the Laboratory for laser techniques. The research assignment discusses the acceleration of substance with the use of lasers. A rocket (the object) can be accelerated by the interaction between the laser beam and the rocket's surface. One of the two mechanisms may be used: (i) a radiation pressure propulsion, whereby the rocket is propelled by reflection of the photons; or (ii) a laser ablation propulsion resulting in transfer of momentum due to laser ablation (ablation of substance). The awarded assignment discusses the former mechanism theoretically while the latter is dealt with in an experimental manner using a ballistic pendulum into which a nanosecond laser flash is directed. With the aid of a high-speed camera, the momentum of the pendulum was measured for various ablation modes, and the coupling coefficient was estimated as well as the efficiency of conversion of flash energy into the mechanical energy of the accelerated object.

The research assignment is available at the Repository of the University of Ljubljana:




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