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Magurele laser system reaches 10PW; project manager calls it dream come true


On Wednesday, March 13, 2019, the 10PW (ten millions of billions of Watts) performance of ELI-NP's High Power Laser System was officially released as a world first and a demonstrative test was presented. That is "a tenth of the entire Sun's power on Earth concentrated in a ray of light," according to ELI-NP project manager Nicolae Zamfir.

"This is a great day for us, an important day. We are unveiling the results of the power tests of the ELI-NP [Extreme Light Infrastructure - Nuclear Physics] laser system at Magurele, and I can tell you that it has reached more power than we have dreamed of - 10.88 petawatts, or ten millions of billions of Watts; a tenth of the entire Sun's power on Earth concentrated in a ray of light; a great scientific achievement that is a world first. With this laser we can create new phenomena, watch the behavior of matter under extreme conditions unheard of so far on Earth, but probably existing elsewhere in the Universe, and we are attempting to unravel some of the mysteries of the Universe. Today, a dream has come true that started less than a decade ago, when under a political decision Romania was to build, to join this world race to achieve the most powerful laser in the world. It was a dream of researchers from all over the world. They would all dream of there being such an instrument. Ten years ago, the greatest power was under one petawatt. Meanwhile, the field has exploded; a race ensued in which many of the developed countries participated. Today, there are over ten labs capable of generating more than a petawatt of lase power. There is a serious competitor in South Korea. We have over ten today," Zamfir said.

Laser team leader Ioan Dancus indicated that the ELI-NP is currently capable of producing the most powerful light pool on the planet.

"This is the accomplishment of a complex and complete team. (...) We used the largest sapphire crystal with titanium ions ever grown on Earth, a crystal that is 20 centimeters in diameter (...) For this system to work an incredible infrastructure is needed. The entire laser system, along with the experiments, is placed on an anti-vibration plate that completely disengages us from external vibrations. From a technical point of view we are dealing with a fantastic system," Dancus explained.

According to him, the system contains thousands of optical and electronic components.

"We will use this laser to respond to two of our great calls: curiosity - to better understand what happens to the Universe around us and creativity - to develop something that will help humanity live better lives," he said.