Scientists at Caltech in Pasadena (USA) has developed a super-thin nanomaterial made of silicon and silicon dioxide, which will allow space probes to accelerate to 20 percent the speed of light. This publication reports Science Alert.
According to the researchers, the structure of the material will allow you to convert wave infrared (if) light pulse, which can accelerate the apparatus up to 60 thousand kilometers per second. The use of such a solar sail would allow the probe to reach the nearest stars within decades, not millennia. However, acceleration will not be used photons that are emitted by the sun, a laser that sends beams of if radiation.
The difficulty of creating a “sail” is that even for small devices, the surface area of the trapping photons, must be large. In turn, the material should be very light, so that his weight did not interfere with overclocking, but not to be fragile. In addition, it needs to withstand high temperatures arising during the bombardment of photons and emit the energy as heat. The developed material allows you to capture enough light without overheating.
Silicon has the necessary to disperse the refractive index (the ratio of speeds of light in the medium and in vacuum), and silicon dioxide ensures that the release of heat. The optimal ratio of these components will need to be set in subsequent experiments.
Video, photo All from Russia.