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Most Powerful Laser In The World Fires Up

Date:
April 9, 2008
Source:
University of Texas at Austin
Summary:
The Texas Petawatt laser reached greater than one petawatt of laser power on Monday morning, March 31, making it the highest powered laser in the world. When the laser is turned on, it has the power output of more than 2,000 times the output of all power plants in the United States.

The Texas Petawatt laser reached greater than one petawatt of laser power on Monday morning, March 31, making it the highest powered laser in the world, Todd Ditmire, a physicist at The University of Texas at Austin, said. The Texas Petawatt is the only operating petawatt laser in the United States.

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Ditmire says that when the laser is turned on, it has the power output of more than 2,000 times the output of all power plants in the United States. (A petawatt is one quadrillion watts.) The laser is brighter than sunlight on the surface of the sun, but it only lasts for an instant, a 10th of a trillionth of a second (0.0000000000001 second).

Ditmire and his colleagues at the Texas Center for High-Intensity Laser Science will use the laser to create and study matter at some of the most extreme conditions in the universe, including gases at temperatures greater than those in the sun and solids at pressures of many billions of atmospheres.

This will allow them to explore many astronomical phenomena in miniature. They will create mini-supernovas, tabletop stars and very high-density plasmas that mimic exotic stellar objects known as brown dwarfs.

"We can learn about these large astronomical objects from tiny reactions in the lab because of the similarity of the mathematical equations that describe the events," said Ditmire, director of the center.

Such a powerful laser will also allow them to study advanced ideas for creating energy by controlled fusion.

The Texas Petawatt was built with funding provided by the National Nuclear Security Administration, an agency within the U. S. Department of Energy.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Texas at Austin. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Texas at Austin. "Most Powerful Laser In The World Fires Up." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 April 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080408085449.htm>.
University of Texas at Austin. (2008, April 9). Most Powerful Laser In The World Fires Up. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080408085449.htm
University of Texas at Austin. "Most Powerful Laser In The World Fires Up." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080408085449.htm (accessed December 20, 2014).

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