March 31, 2009

World’s largest laser built in California

The U.S. Department of Energy says the National Nuclear Security Administration has certified the completion of the world's largest laser.

Located at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's National Ignition Facility in California, the laser is expected to allow scientists to achieve fusion ignition in the laboratory, obtaining more energy from the target than is provided by the laser.

Completion of the National Ignition Facility is a true milestone that will make America safer and more energy independent by opening new avenues of scientific advancement and discovery, said NNSA Administrator Thomas D'Agostino. NIF will be a cornerstone of a critical national security mission, ensuring the continuing reliability of the U.S. nuclear stockpile without underground nuclear testing, while also providing a path to explore the frontiers of basic science and potential technologies for energy independence.

The Energy Department said the stadium-sized NIF is capable of focusing all of its 192 individual beams onto a spot about two-hundredths of an inch in diameter at the center of its 32-foot diameter target chamber in billionths of a second.