Researchers in Osaka were able to produce a 2-petawatt laser beam using a device known as the Laser for Fast Ignition Experiment (LFEX).
The power of the ‘Death Star’-like beam is equivalent to 1,000 times the world’s total electricity consumption, the scientists claim.
While it produced a huge amount of power, the energy required for the beam itself is equivalent to that needed to power a microwave for two seconds.
The team were able to produce such a high output from low energy by only firing the laser beam for 1 pico-second, or a trillionth of a second.
To amplify the beam’s power, energy was applied to strategically-placed glass panels along the 328ft (100 metre)-long LFEX device.
These glass lamps were able focus the beam to boost its energy as it passed through.
From an insert in the article:
- The device produced a 2-petawatt – or 2 quadrillion-watt – laser beam.
- This is equivalent to 1,000 times the world’s electricity consumption.
- To put that in context, Rheinmetall Defense was recently able to shoot a drone down a mile away using a 50kW laser.
- The 50kW laser was 10 billion times less powerful that the one used in Japan.
Again: Holy crap! You’d need a really big shark to put that frickin’ laser on its frickin’ head.
But seriously, interesting as this is, the tech involved has one obvious application: Fusion reactors. A laser-compression fusion reactor needs really powerful lasers – really, really powerful frickin’ lasers. This is one such, but there’s a problem: A one picosecond burst isn’t very useful. Interesting, but not useful. One would think a sustained burst would be what was needed.
But then, my background is biology, not physics.