The largest laser in the world was turned on for a fraction of a second last week — and it unleashed the most powerful laser blast in history.
The National Ignition Facility (NIF) — a laser test facility at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, Calif. — turned on its 192 laser beams for a brief instant on March 15, unleashing a record-setting 1.875-megajoule blast into a target chamber.
The lasers were combined, gathered and focused through a series of lens into a 2.03-megajoule shot, said Ed Moses, NIF director — a record for the facility.
That pulse of energy lasted for just 23 billionths of a second, yet it generated 411 trillion watts of power, NIF said — 1,000 times more than the entire United States consumes at any given instant.
“It’s a remarkable demonstration of the laser from the standpoint of its energy, its precision, its power, and its availability,”
“The world’s largest laser has just put a little more zing in its zap. On 15 March, the 192 laser beams of the National Ignition Facility (NIF) at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, California, fired a record 1.875-megajoule shot into the laser’s target chamber, surpassing its 1.8-megajoule design specification. The shot, which was just a demonstration and did not incorporate a target, nonetheless represents a milepost in an effort to get past the break-even point — ignition — in coaxing fusion energy from a tiny frozen fuel pellet.”
Participants: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory and others.