from the I'm-beginning-to-see-the-light dept.
The laser that will be the most powerful in the United States is preparing to send its first pulses into an experimental target at the University of Michigan.
Called ZEUS, the Zetawatt-Equivalent Ultrashort pulse laser System, it will explore the physics of the quantum universe as well as outer space, and it is expected to contribute to new technologies in medicine, electronics and national security.
"ZEUS will be the highest peak power laser in the U.S. and among the most powerful laser systems in the world. We're looking forward to growing the research community and bringing in people with new ideas for experiments and applications," said Karl Krushelnick, director of the Center for Ultrafast Optical Science, which houses ZEUS, and the Henry J. Gomberg Collegiate Professor of Engineering.
[...] In this first run, the ZEUS team is starting at a power of 30 terawatts (30 trillion watts), about 3% of the current most powerful lasers in the U.S. and 1% of ZEUS's eventual maximum power.
"During the experiment here, we'll put the first light through to the target chamber and develop towards that 300 terawatt level," said John Nees, a research scientist in electrical and computer engineering.
[...] "Magnetars, which are neutron stars with extremely strong magnetic fields around them, and objects like active galactic nuclei surrounded by very hot plasma—we can recreate the microphysics of hot plasma in extremely strong fields in the laboratory," said Louise Willingale, associate director of ZEUS and an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering.