The National Science Foundation recently awarded an $18-million grant to a team of scientists to design the most powerful laser in the world. The team includes Franklin Dollar, professor of physics & astronomy at the University of California, Irvine.
“The idea is that this will be a premier scientific facility for the world to address all kinds of things in science and all kinds of applications that such a powerful laser can do,” said Dollar, who uses lasers to research particle acceleration and light sources.
The new laser, called EP-OPAL (Optical Parametric Amplifier Lines), will, if completed, consist of two separate 25-petawatt lasers. That means that, for the millionths of a billionth of a second that the laser will fire, it will be over a thousand times more powerful than the global power grid. The plan is to build EP-OPAL in a new building at the Laboratory for Laser Energetics at the University of Rochester, with funding from the NSF’s Mid-Scale Research Infrastructure-1 Program.