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  • National Energetics to Build 10 PW Research Laser
Sep 2014
AUSTIN, Texas, Sept. 24, 2014 — A consortium led by National Energetics Inc. has been awarded a contract over $40 million to develop and install a petawatt laser system at a research facility being built outside Prague.

The laser system will be capable of producing peak power in excess of 10 PW, pulse energies over 1.5 kJ and pulse widths of approximately 150 fs at a repetition rate of one shot per minute.

A 3-D CAD rendition of the 10-PW laser system. Courtesy of National Energetics.

Novel liquid cooling technology developed at National Energetics will allow the system to operate at repetition rates 20 times faster than any other kilojoule-class disc laser of its class.

The system utilizes technologies developed in collaboration with the University of Texas for the previously deployed Texas Petawatt laser in Austin, such as optical parametric chirped-pulse amplification followed by high-energy amplification in glass disc amplifiers employing two kinds of laser glass.

The laser system will be one of four major beamlines at the European Union’s $350 million Extreme Light Infrastructure Beamlines (ELI-Beamlines) facility in Dolni Brezany, Czech Republic. It will be used in novel research in areas such as plasma and high-energy-density physics, particle acceleration and investigations into molecular, biomedical and material sciences.

An optical parametric chirped-pulse amplification pump source. Courtesy of Ekspla UAB.

The laser development consortium also includes Ekspla UAB of Lithuania, which provides expertise in laser power sources; Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, which will be under a subcontract for technology support and to manufacture specialized gratings; and Schott AG of Germany, which will supply glass for use in large-aperture laser amplifiers.

The system will be assembled in Austin and is expected to be installed at ELI-Beamlines in 2017.

“This laser pushes the boundaries of current laser technology toward peak powers yet to be seen in the laboratory,” said National Energetics President Todd Ditmire. “The techniques which will be utilized to realize such a dramatic improvement in peak power and high energy repetition rate will, without a doubt, have a major impact on the development of many high-peak-power ultrafast laser systems in the future.”

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