British scientists are to mimic black holes in the laboratory as part of a £2.35 million project looking at how matter and energy interact.
The team from Heriot-Watt University in Scotland will produce laser pulses whose energy is measured in trillions of watts.
They will be used to simulate conditions found around a black hole, a place where gravity is so strong that light cannot escape and the normal laws of physics break down.
Lead scientist Daniele Faccio said: "What we are creating is the same space-time structure which characterises a black hole. But we're doing this with a light pulse, so we don't actually have the mass which is associated with black holes.
"Gravitational black holes are generated by a collapsing star. We don't actually have this collapsing star, so there's no danger of being sucked into the black holes we're generating here."
The university has been awarded a three million euro (£2.35 million) grant by the European Research Council to investigate new areas of quantum physics.
Another study will look at how single photons and electrons interact with each other in computer chips.