Japanese engineers are claiming to have set a new record for powering up the world’s most powerful laser that sports a peak power equal to a thousand times of the total world energy consumption. Destruction of dominance of world? More likely to unlock the mysteries of the universe.
Junji Kawanaka, Institute of Laser Engineering at Osaka University, said, “We have achieved 2 petawatt peak power at 2 kJ, 1 ps (picosecond).” Put on your science cap folks, a petawatt is equal to a quadrillion watts. International Energy Agency (IEA) estimated the worldwide energy consumption in 2012 at 155.5 petawatt hours (PWh). A pico second is equal to a trillionth of a second. Now that you have a little perspective, say hello the ‘LFEX’ (Laser for Fast Ignition Experiments) that is enjoying its position in the ultra-fast high-powered lasers such the Texas Pettawatt Laser and Berkeley Lab Laser Accelerator (BELLA).
As per the draft of the paper that was presented by Kawanaka and his team at the Advanced Lasers and Photon Sources conference in Japan in April, the system has a front end created from a femtosecond oscillator along with double pulse stretchers, diffraction grating pairs and three stages of optical parametric amplification (OPCPA) that is then followed by a main amplifier, pulse compressor and finally focusing optics.
To put it in simpler words; the 100-meter long system is all about application of energy to a unique glass and then repetitive amplification of power of resulting beam within a controlled environment that also allows for means of observation. Kawanaka and his team are working on upgrading the laser to 10 petawatts by improving the mirrors they are using. He said, “To avoid optical damage of mirror(s) induced by such a very high laser pulse, developments of larger sized mirrors and/or high-damage threshold mirrors are required.”