ROCHESTER, N.Y., Dec. 11 -- More than $63 million has been appropriated to operate and expand the University of Rochester's Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE) as part of the US House of Representatives' 2004 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act, which President Bush signed into law on Dec. 1.
The $63.132 million appropriation includes $20 million for the design, engineering and construction of a new facility that will include four large laser beams to be used in conjunction with the lab's existing Omega laser, currently the world's largest.
"The university is grateful for the continued funding that will allow the laboratory to continue to lead the quest for fusion energy," says LLE Director Robert McCrory.
The university said it is turning Omega into a "petawatt" facility, meaning the laser will produce one million billion watts of power. The extended performance facility (Omega EP) will support research in new scientific areas such as modeling the very young universe, understanding the quantum world and studying relativistic laser-matter interactions. The enhanced facility will also test a new concept called a "fast ignitor," which may be able to dramatically increase the energy derived from a fusion target.
First opened in 1970, the facility has undergone a number of upgrades in the past "to keep it the foremost fusion-testing platform in the world," the university said. Its laser currently releases more than 100 times the total power output of the nation in a billionth of a second, serving a particularly crucial role as the nation's main fusion program while the Department of Energy builds the National Ignition Facility.
For more information, visit: www.lle.rochester.edu