The United Kingdom Organization for Research and Innovation (UKRI) will invest £85 million (about €97 million at current exchange rates) in the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s Central Laser Facility (CLF) at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. The investment will help upgrade the existing installation, including the Vulcan 20-20 core, and build the world’s most powerful laser.
In addition to solid, liquid and gas, the laser will be used to create plasma, the fourth stable state of matter, and will allow us to study the particles that arise when matter is exposed to extreme conditions, such as extreme heat. Vulcan 20-20 is said to represent a laser that will be 100 times brighter than the current Vulcan and a billion times brighter than the sun’s light in the Sahara desert. Interesting engineering.
While the current laser has already contributed a lot to science, the new CLF is expected to lead the way in this category and allow experiments in important areas such as renewable energy. The name 20-20 comes from its ability to create a laser with eight high-energy beams producing up to 20 petawatts of power flow and 20 kilojoules.
The upgrade to the Vulcan 20-20 is expected to take six years to complete and will require new positions for scientists, engineers, designers and technicians from various fields.
The UK’s science minister, George Freeman, justifies the investment: “Re-establishing Britain as home to the most powerful laser is an exciting opportunity to explore the unexplored in astronomy and physics, and to move towards clean energy sources for the benefit of our planet.”
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