Research to harness the scientific potential of laser-driven technology is being pioneered by a physicist working at Queen's University in Belfast.
Dr Borghesi works at the Centre for Plasma Physics
Dr Marco Borghesi is part of an international team which has developed a technique that controls the properties of laser-accelerated ions.
This method can be used in scientific, technological and medical areas, potentially including cancer therapy.
Queen's Professor Ciaran Lewis said it was a "significant breakthrough".
"The technique that has been patented is easier to use and more efficient than other methods so far developed," said Professor Lewis, who is head of the university's Centre for Plasma Physics.
He said the ability to control the properties of laser-driven ions was a "powerful tool".
Dr Borghesi said extensive research had been taking place around the world to produce beams of high-energy ions with lasers.
"To be able to use them effectively in applications, the key is the ability to control their velocity and direction so that their energy can be deposited precisely and efficiently," he said.
"This is exactly what the new technique enables us to do."
The team from Queen's University worked alongside researchers from Dusseldorf in Germany, and Palaiseau in France.