Japanese team fires world's most powerful laser

July 29, 2015 by Bob Yirka, Phys.org report
GEKKO XII -- at the Osaka University's Institute for Laser Engineering. Credit: KASUGA, Sho

(Phys.org)—A team of researchers and engineers at Japan's Osaka University is reporting that they have successfully fired what they are claiming is the world's most powerful laser. In their paper published in the journal Plasma Physics and Controlled Fusion in 2012, the team described their laser and how it works.

The team now reports that they fired the (called the Laser for Fast Ignition Experiments [LFEX]) for a very short period of time—a of just a trillionth of a second. But that pulse was a doozy, emitting 2-petawatts of power, or put another way 2 quadrillion watts.

Lasers have come a long way since their humble beginnings in the early 60's, but still work much the same way—light is amplified via a gain medium through pumping and the result is light that is emitted coherently, which allows it to be narrowly focused. This new laser is approximately 300 feet long, taking up most of a large room, but interestingly, because the pulse is of such short duration, it does not need much energy to create the beam, just a few Joules, or as they team notes, not much more than it would take to run a microwave oven for a few seconds—special glass lamps were used to boost the energy of the beam as it passed through. The research team claims also that not only does the laser generate approximately twice as much power as a similar rival laser at the University of Texas, but has approximately 100 times as much energy.

The team reports also that their configuration is only the beginning, they plan to create stronger and stronger lasers with a goal of achieving 10 petawatts. Such lasers, at least for now, are mostly only of scientific interest, to sustain a pulse long enough to be of practical use would require more power than would likely be available, at least for now. A 2 for example, would require more energy to run continuously, than is currently produced by the whole world, thus giant lasers used as weapons to take down aircraft, drones or missiles (or the Death Star) at great distances are not likely to happen any time soon.

Explore further: Researchers build molecules using a laser beam

Related Stories

Researchers build molecules using a laser beam

July 7, 2015

(Phys.org)—A combined team of researchers from Israel's Hebrew University and Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and Germany's Universität Kassel has succeeded in demonstrating coherent control of bond-forming between ...

Igniting the air for atmospheric research

February 18, 2015

Scientists from Vienna and Moscow have created a high-energy mid-infrared laser powerful enough to create shining filaments in the air. Such devices could be used to detect chemical substances in the atmosphere.

Laser Fusion and Exawatt Lasers

October 1, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- In the recent past, producing lasers with terawatt (a trillion watts) beams was impressive. Now petawatt (a thousand trillion watts, or 10^15 watts) lasers are the forefront of laser research. Some labs are ...

Image: Laser test bench

April 22, 2015

This ESA test bench is usually shrouded in darkness, except for the laser beam being projected across it.

Recommended for you

Scientists create diodes made of light

March 16, 2018

Photonics researchers at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) have achieved the extra-ordinary by creating a diode consisting of light that can be used, for the first time, in miniaturised photonic circuits, as published ...

Quantum speed limits are not actually quantum

March 15, 2018

Quantum mechanics has fundamental speed limits—upper bounds on the rate at which quantum systems can evolve. However, two groups working independently have published papers showing for the first time that quantum speed ...

The view from inside supersonic combustion

March 15, 2018

In a jet engine, the flow of air is slowed down to increase the temperature and pressure for combustion—burning fuel with the right ratio of fuel and air to conquer drag allows for acceleration.


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Jul 30, 2015
Da Big Honkin' Space Gun is getting closer and closer.
not rated yet Aug 04, 2015
Wait, so, a massive amount of energy was created from a little amount of energy? They broke physics?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.