Scientists Are About to Fire Up The Most Powerful Laser in The US

The team working on the ZEUS laser. (Marcin Szczepanski/Michigan Engineering)

 The most powerful laser in the US right now is getting ready to turned on to send its first pulses this week – enabling researchers to reach a new level of insight into plasma physics and particle accelerators. 

Well-known as the Zettawatt-Equivalent Ultrashort pulse laser System (ZEUS), it produces an ultra-short, very powerful pulse of just 25 femtoseconds. A femtosecond is a quadrillionth of a second – or to put it another means, a femtosecond is to a second what a second is to about 31.71 million years. 

As the laser's capabilities are ramped up, it could eventually be utilized to study some of the most exotic phenomena of the Universe at the laboratory scale: might be the physics of a gamma-ray burst or a black hole. 

"ZEUS will be among the powerful laser systems in the world," says astrophysicist Karl Krushelnick from the University of Michigan. 

ZEUS is going to start on a much smaller scale and then build up: the very first part of the laser to be turned on is known as the high-repetition target area, which utilizes pulses of a higher frequency but at a lower power.  

This starting stage is going to require 30 terawatts (30 trillion watts) of power – an expensive amount, but only a single percent of what ZEUS will eventually be efficient of. The power will be used to research a new kind of X-ray imaging. 

By sending Infrared laser pulses from ZEUS into helium gas that then convert into plasma, researchers want to form compact X-ray pulses from highly excited electron beams. These X-ray pulses have the potential to be utilize as a very precise, very precise method for imaging soft tissue. 

By the end of 2023, ZEUS should be operating full-scale experiments in fields covering quantum physics, data security, materials science, remote sensing, and medical diagnostics – as well as the research of some of the most extreme objects out there in space. 

One part of the laser uses what's known as colliding beam geometry, where the laser pulse is break into two parts: one of the pulses can then be utilize to accelerate electrons into a high-speed beam that can then be managed to interact back with the second laser pulse. 

This leads to a simulation a billion times more powerful than the actual capacity of ZEUS can produce with just one pulse. 

The scientists behind the development and launch of ZEUS emphasizes that the laser is available for researchers around the world. Scientists are eager in using it can submit their proposals for approval. 

"We're looking forward to extend the research circle and bringing in some people with new ideas for experiments and applications," says Krushelnick. 

This article has been published by  Scince Alert

Post a Comment