Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Laser achieves world record power at one pulse per second

Date:
July 27, 2012
Source:
DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Summary:
The laser system for BELLA, the Berkeley Lab Laser Accelerator, has delivered a petawatt of power -- a quadrillion watts -- in a pulse just 40 femtoseconds long -- a quadrillionth of a second -- at one pulse per second. No other laser system has achieved this peak power at this pulse rate. BELLA's laser should soon be driving electron beams to 10-billion-electron-volt energies in an accelerator just one meter long.

The BELLA laser during construction. In the foreground, units of the front end stretch and amplify short, relatively weak laser pulses before further amplification in the long central chamber. Amplification is done by titanium sapphire crystals boosted by a dozen pump lasers. At the far end of the hall the now highly energetic stretched pulse is compressed before being directed to BELLA’s electron-beam accelerator component.
Credit: Photo Roy Kaltschmidt, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

On the night of July 20, 2012, the laser system of the Berkeley Lab Laser Accelerator (BELLA), which is nearing completion at the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), delivered a petawatt of power in a pulse just 40 femtoseconds long at a pulse rate of one hertz -- one pulse every second. A petawatt is 1015 watts, a quadrillion watts, and a femtosecond is 10-15 second, a quadrillionth of a second. No other laser system has achieved this peak power at this rapid pulse rate.

"This represents a new world record," said Wim Leemans of Berkeley Lab's Accelerator and Fusion Research Division (AFRD) when announcing the late-night success to his team. Leemans heads AFRD's Lasers and Optical Accelerator Systems Integrated Studies program (LOASIS) and conceived BELLA in 2006.

"My congratulations to the BELLA team for this early mark of success," said Berkeley Lab Director Paul Alivisatos. "This is encouraging progress toward a future generation of smaller and far more efficient accelerators to maintain our nation's leadership in the tools of basic science."

"Congratulations to all of you on this spectacular achievement," said Stephen Gourlay, Director of AFRD. "It doesn't seem that long ago that BELLA was just a dream, and now there is even more to look forward to. Thank you all for the hard work and support that made this a reality."

Leemans says, "BELLA will be an exceptional tool for advancing the physics of laser and matter interactions. The laser's peak power will give us access to new regimes, such as developing compact particle accelerators for high-energy physics, and tabletop free electron lasers for investigating materials and biological systems. As we investigate these new regimes, the laser's repetition rate of one pulse per second will allow us to do 'science with error bars' -- repeated experiments within a reasonable time."

The BELLA design draws on years of laser plasma accelerator research conducted by LOASIS. Unlike conventional accelerators that use modulated electric fields to accelerate charged particles such as protons and electrons, laser plasma accelerators generate waves of electron density that move through a plasma, using laser beams to either heat and drill through a plume of gas or driving through plasma enclosed in a thin capillary in a crystalline block like sapphire. The waves trap some of the plasma's free electrons and accelerate them to very high energies within very short lengths, as if the accelerated electrons were surfing on the near-light-speed wave.

LOASIS reported its first high-quality electron beams of 100 million electron volts (100 MeV) in 2004 and the first beams of a billion electron volts (1 GeV) in 2006 -- in a sapphire block just 3.3 centimeters long. Planning for BELLA began shortly thereafter.

The BELLA laser is expected to drive what will be the first laser plasma accelerator to produce a beam of electrons with an energy of 10 billion electron volts (10 GeV). Before being converted to other uses, the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center achieved 50‑GeV electron beams with traditional technology, but required a linear accelerator two miles long to do it. By contrast, the BELLA accelerator is just one meter long, supported by its laser system in an adjacent room.

"LOASIS know-how in assembling our own laser systems allowed us to specify the laser requirements and specifications we'd need to achieve reliable, stable, tunable 10‑GeV beams with short warm-up time," Leemans says. "U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu said that new tools lead to new science, the kind BELLA is specifically designed to do. "

The BELLA laser system has already demonstrated compressed output energy of 42.4 joules in about 40 femtoseconds at 1 Hz. Its initial peak power of one petawatt is twice that of lasers recently said to produce pulses more powerful than that consumed by the entire U.S. "at any instant in time." "Instant" is the operative word, since the BELLA laser's average power is just 42.4 watts, about what a typical household light bulb uses. The enormous peak power results from compressing that modest average power into an extremely short pulse.

Developed by Thales of France, whose team at Berkeley Lab was led by Francois Lureau, and installed in facilities constructed at Berkeley Lab, the BELLA laser system is fully integrated with Berkeley Lab equipment and personnel protection systems. It is expected to rapidly improve upon its first record-breaking performance and will soon be able to deliver the powerful pulses needed to create 10-billion-electron-volt electron beams in an accelerator just one meter long. Experiments to demonstrate BELLA's ability to attain 10-GeV beams will begin this fall.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. "Laser achieves world record power at one pulse per second." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 July 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120727111250.htm>.
DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. (2012, July 27). Laser achieves world record power at one pulse per second. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120727111250.htm
DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. "Laser achieves world record power at one pulse per second." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120727111250.htm (accessed July 30, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways

Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways

AP (July 30, 2014) British officials said on Wednesday that driverless cars will be tested on roads in as many as three cities in a trial program set to begin in January. Officials said the tests will last up to three years. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Amid Drought, UCLA Sees Only Water

Amid Drought, UCLA Sees Only Water

AP (July 30, 2014) A ruptured 93-year-old water main left the UCLA campus awash in 8 million gallons of water in the middle of California's worst drought in decades. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow

Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow

AP (July 30, 2014) Smartphone powered paper airplane that was popular on crowdfunding website KickStarter makes its debut at Wisconsin airshow (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
U.K. To Allow Driverless Cars On Public Roads

U.K. To Allow Driverless Cars On Public Roads

Newsy (July 30, 2014) Driverless cars could soon become a staple on U.K. city streets, as they're set to be introduced to a few cities in 2015. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile: iPhone Android Web
      Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins