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Companies Cooperate to Upgrade Laser System of ELI for Nuclear Physics

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Advanced technology corporation Thales has partnered with German fusion technology company Marvel Fusion and the ELI-NP (Extreme Light Infrastructure - Nuclear Physics) in Romania to upgrade the laser system and to perform research relevant to nuclear fusion as a future energy source. Over the course of 2023, the partners intend to enhance parameters of the laser system, such as the temporal laser pulse contrast, to enable unique research capabilities of laser-based fusion processes.

As part of an ongoing cooperation with ELI-NP, Thales will supply a new stretcher unit that is used to stretch laser pulses over time, which initially reduces their peak power. The stretched, less powerful pulses can then be amplified and then compressed again. This process is part of the chirped pulse amplification, the development of which earned Donna Strickland and Gerard Mourou the Nobel Prize in physics in 2018. Mourou is part of Marvel Fusion’s Science and Technology Board.

Marvel Fusion, which will start the experimental campaign at ELI-NP in 2023, seeks to validate key parameters of the laser-matter-interaction between high-intensity laser pulses with durations of tens of femtoseconds and nanostructured fuel targets. In the experiments, scientists will examine the essential physical processes of the interaction and their optimization. The results of those experiments will be published in a peer-reviewed journal with the intention of advancing the field of laser-matter interaction.

Building on the results at ELI-NP and the cooperation with Thales, Marvel Fusion aims to show the core building blocks of its novel technology within three years as a precursor to building commercial power plants in the 2030s. The new technologies will therefore be able to increase the EU’s economic resilience and contribute to the decarbonization of the continent, according to the Green Deal Agenda.

Franck Leibreich, laser solution managing director at Thales, said, “Fusion based on latest-generation short-pulse lasers can enable the EU to guarantee an advanced energy system. With the most powerful laser system ELI-NP in Romania and the leading manufacturer of industrial short-pulse lasers, Europe needs to capitalize on its outstanding knowledge and first-class infrastructure to globally lead in laser-based fusion.” 


Georg Korn, CTO of Marvel Fusion and former scientific director at ELI, cited the high power levels of the petawatt systems. “Experimenting at ELI-NP means that we now enter a phase in our technology validation in which we can draw direct physical conclusions about scalable designs of our target structures and the laser-target interactions,” he said.
Thales and Marvel Fusion will cooperate in upgrading the laser system of the Extreme Light Infrastructure for Nuclear Physics (ELI-NP) in Magurele, Romania. Marvel Fusion becomes the first private company to establish a scientific collaboration at the world's most powerful laser facility. For Thales, the partnership will strengthen its leadership position in the design, development, and manufacturing of solid-state lasers for science, industry, and space.
Thales and Marvel Fusion will cooperate in upgrading the laser system of the Extreme Light Infrastructure for Nuclear Physics (ELI-NP) in Magurele, Romania. Marvel Fusion becomes the first private company to establish a scientific collaboration at the world’s most powerful laser facility. For Thales, the partnership will strengthen its leadership position in the design, development, and manufacturing of solid-state lasers for science, industry, and space. Courtesy of Thales Group.
Thales joined the ELI-NP program in 2013 to develop and build the laser system. In 2019, the construction was finished by Thales, and for the first time, a 10-PW laser pulse was shot at the facility.

After the planned adaptation to the laser system, Marvel Fusion will be the first private company to establish a scientific collaboration with ELI-NP.

With two laser beams each reaching 10 PW of peak power, ELI-NP is the world’s most powerful short-pulse laser system. It supports researchers in fields from laser-based nuclear physics to ion therapy for the treatment of cancer to astrophysical processes.


Published: December 2022
Glossary
synchrotron
A device that uses superconducting magnets to bend or accelerate charged particles. It can be used to etch very fine high-density patterns on integrated circuits.
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