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Giant super-laser passes 500 TRILLION watts

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The National Ignition Facility has followed up on its March firing with yet-another record, flicking the switch on a pulse that topped 500 trillion watts and 1.85 megajoules of UV laser.

Back in March, the NIF at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory had previously fired a 411 trillion watt pulse.

As noted by the lab, 500 Terawatts is more than 1,000 times as much power as is consumed in the United States at any instant, and the laser claims power output of around 100 times any other laser “regularly” produces today.

The NIF laser uses 192 beams to produce its extremely high power outputs, and has been designed to help act as an ignition source for hydrogen fusion (without the inconvenience of using, for example, nuclear weapons to trigger a fusion reaction).

The lasers fired within a few trillionths of a second of each other, onto a target 2mm in diameter. The scientists say in this media release that the energy release was accurate to better than 1 percent of predictions, and beam-to-beam uniformity had similar accuracy. This makes the NIF “the most precise and reproducible” high-energy laser around. ®

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