World’s Most Powerful Laser Unveiled

Inside the National Ignition Facility (NIF) target chamber.  Photo credit:  National Ignition Facility

Inside the National Ignition Facility (NIF) target chamber. Photo credit: National Ignition Facility

The world’s most powerful laser, officially known as the National Ignition Facility, was unveiled last week at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory near San Francisco.  The size of a football field, the NIF consists of 192 separate laser beams which are able to converge simultaneously on a target the size of a pencil eraser.

The NIF will have a variety of uses.  Government officials want to use it to help ensure aging nuclear weapons are functioning properly, avoiding underground testing.  It will be used in studying astrophysics, allowing scientists to mimic conditions inside planets, in new solar systems, and to create controlled fusion reactions such as those found in the sun.  The NIF will also be used in green energy experiments.  For more information, see InformationWeek.

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