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Record-Breaking Laser Packs 500 Trillion Watts Of Power

Record-Breaking Laser Packs 500 Trillion Watts Of Power

New high-intensity laser fires 500 terawatts of power…

Researchers at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s National Ignition Facility (NIF) have developed a record-breaking laser capable of delivering more than 500 trillion watts of power.

To create the intensely high-powered 500-terawatt beam the laser uses an array of 192 beams, along with 1.85 megajoules of ultraviolet laser light.

To put that into perspective, that’s a thousand times more power than the U.S. uses at any given moment, and one hundred times more powerful than any laser on the planet.

nif 500 trillion watt laser

NIF 500 Trillion Watt Laser

Image Credit: Damien Jemison/LLNL, 2012.

When all 192 lasers were fired within a few trillionths of a second of each other at a target measuring 2mm, the beam-to-beam uniformity was less than one percent. This makes the laser not only the worlds more powerful, but also the most precise and reproducible.

The new achievement reaches a milestone set in the 90’s when the NIF was still under development. The facility is now the only place in the world able to duplicate the reaction that occurs at the heart of a modern nuclear device.

Experts hope the technology path the way for advancements in the development of hydrogen fusion energy, and eradicate the need for underground nuclear testing. It could also be used to recreate the extreme states of matter that exist in other parts of the universe, which could lead to a better understanding of the celestial world that surrounds us.

Richard Petrasso, senior research scientist and division head of high energy density physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said in a press release:

“For scientists across the nation and the world who, like ourselves, are actively pursuing fundamental science under extreme conditions and the goal of laboratory fusion ignition, this is a remarkable and exciting achievement…

“The 500 TW shot is an extraordinary accomplishment by the NIF Team, creating unprecedented conditions in the laboratory that hitherto only existed deep in stellar interiors,”

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  1. Record-Breaking Laser Hits 500 Trillion Watts. Wired, 07/17/2012.
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