Most powerful laser in U.S. to begin operations at University of Michigan

August 30, 2021 | In the News

The 3 petawatt (3 PW) ZEUS laser at the University of Michigan (U-M; Ann Arbor, MI) has been awarded $18.5 million by the National Science Foundation (NSF; Alexandria, VA) to establish it as a federally funded international user facility. ZEUS is expected to begin its first experiments in early 2022.

The U.S. built the world’s first petawatt laser in 1996, but hasn’t kept pace with more ambitious systems under construction elsewhere in the world. This includes two 10 PW lasers in Europe and a 5.3 PW laser in China, which also has plans to build a 100 PW laser. While the new laser doesn’t pack as much raw power, its approach will simulate a laser that is roughly a million times more powerful than its 3 PW.

The ZEUS laser will primarily be used to study extreme plasmas, a state of matter in which electrons break free of their atoms, forming what amounts to charged gases.

Read more at Laser Focus World
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