NSF funds multi-institutional design of world-leading EP-OPAL laser at Rochester

September 27, 2023 | In the News

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded the University of Rochester nearly $18 million over three years to design and prototype key technologies for EP-OPAL, a new facility dedicated to the study of ultrahigh-intensity laser-matter interactions.

The ultrahigh-intensity laser facility has the potential to be a unique open-access resource for the global scientific community. The facility could be built at the Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE) upon completion of the design project. The funding, part of NSF’s Mid-Scale Research Infrastructure-1 Program, supports the agency in positioning the United States at the cutting edge of global science and engineering leadership.

High-intensity lasers enable a large and important body of pioneering science—from plasma science to particle acceleration, laboratory astrophysics to laser-driven nuclear physics—that has resulted in scientific, medical, commercial, and industrial applications. A successful EP-OPAL design would enable the highest-power laser system in the world, according to principal investigator Jonathan Zuegel, a distinguished scientist at LLE and a professor of optics at Rochester. “Its two laser beams combined will deliver laser pulses with peak power approaching the same total power as incident on the Earth’s surface from the Sun, but focused into an area smaller than the cross-section of a human hair,” he says.

Read more at University of Rochester
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