Romania center discovers world’s most powerful laser

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The Romanian research center has the world’s most powerful laser beam.

“Ready? Signal sent!” In the control room of a research center in Romania, engineer Antonia Toma activates the world’s most powerful laser, promising revolutionary advances in everything from health to space.

The laser at the centre, near the Romanian capital Bucharest, is operated by French company Thales using Nobel Prize-winning inventions.

Gerard Mourou of France and Donna Strickland of Canada won the 2018 Nobel Physics Prize for harnessing the power of lasers to advance precision instruments in corrective eye surgery and industry.

The Nobel Academy citation states, “Bright rays of laser light have given us new opportunities to deepen our knowledge of the world and shape it.”

In the center, in front of a wall of screens displaying light rays, Toma checks a series of indicators before starting the countdown.

On the other side of the glass, in long rows of red and black boxes, are two laser systems.

“I’m not going to lie. Things can be a little stressful from time to time,” Toma, 29, told AFP during a recent on-site press visit.

“But it’s also very enjoyable to work here. And we’re very pleased that we have results” as teams of international researchers come to the center, he said.

The world's most powerful laser is based on Chirped Pulse Amplification (CPA)

The world’s most powerful laser is based on Chirped Pulse Amplification (CPA).

‘The Incredible Odyssey’

Nobel laureate Mourou admitted that he was “very impressed” by his “incredible journey” – from the United States where he spent 30 years to realizing the project in Europe.

It was born out of the European Union’s Infrastructure ELI project in the 2000s.

“We start from a tiny luminous seed with very little energy, which will be magnified millions and millions of times,” said Mourou, 79, trying to give a sense of the “giant steps taken”, the “unprecedented powers” achieved. Hui said. ,

Scientists have always been pushing to create more powerful lasers.

However, by the mid-1980s, they had hit a wall, as they could not increase the power without destroying the thing that amplifies the beam.

That’s when Mourou and his then-student Strickland invented a technique called chirped-pulse amplification (CPA), which managed to increase the power while preserving the intensity.

It works by stretching an ultra-short laser pulse over time, expanding it, and squeezing it together again, creating the shortest and most intense laser pulse ever seen in the world.

It has already been applied in corrective eye surgery, but it has also opened the way for scientists to push the limits of laser power.

“We will use these ultra-intense pulses to produce more compact and less expensive particle accelerators to destroy cancer cells,” Mourou said.

For Mourou, the 21st century will be the age of the laser

For Mourou, the 21st century will be the age of the laser.

age of laser

He said other potential applications include treating nuclear waste by reducing the duration of radioactivity, or cleaning up debris that accumulates in space.

For Mourou, just as the last century was of the electron, the 21st century will be of the laser.

The scale of operations at the research center is staggering.

This system is capable of reaching a peak of 10 petawatts (10 to 15 watts of power) for ultra-short periods of time, on the order of a femtosecond (one millionth of a billionth of a second).

Frank Liebreich, managing director of laser solutions at Thales, said it took “450 tonnes of equipment” – carefully set up – to achieve the “extraordinary level of performance”.

The centre’s high-tech building cost 320 million euros ($350 million), financed mainly by the European Union.

Thales described it as the largest investment ever made in scientific research in Romania.

Meanwhile, countries including France, China and the United States are already advancing their own projects to create even more powerful lasers.

© 2024 AFP

Citation:Romania center explores the world’s most powerful laser (2024, 31 March) Retrieved on 31 March 2024 from Went

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