New laser breaks record for highest power beam at 500 trillion watts

Doctor Evil would be positively giddy at the thought of strapping the laser that has set a world record at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory to the head of the shark. The laser at the National Ignition Facility set a world record for the highest power laser shot in history using a collection of beams. The collection of beams delivered over 500 trillion watts of peak power.

The laser used 192 individual beams fired at the same time to deliver 1.85 MJ of ultraviolet laser light. The hugely powerful laser beam was shot at a target only 2 mm in diameter. The laser used 12,500 times more electricity than all of Britain required in 2006. I'd hate to pay the electricity bill.

The laboratory where the record was set was specifically built for testing and designing high-powered lasers. The National Ignition Facility is the world's foremost laser research center. The laboratory has a goal of creating a laser powerful enough to ignite hydrogen fusion.

"For scientists across the nation and the world who, like ourselves, are actively pursuing fundamental science under extreme conditions and the goal of laboratory fusion ignition, this is a remarkable and exciting achievement," said Richard Petrasso, senior research scientist and division head of high energy density physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in a press release. "The 500 TW shot is an extraordinary accomplishment by the NIF Team, creating unprecedented conditions in the laboratory that hitherto only existed deep in stellar interiors."

[via Wired]