From Lawrence Berkeley National Lab: “Berkeley Lab Joins Other Labs and Universities in LaserNetUS, A New Nationwide High-Intensity Laser Network”

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From Lawrence Berkeley National Lab

October 30, 2018
Glenn Roberts Jr.
(510) 486-5582

Network will provide more access to petawatt-class laser at Berkeley Lab’s BELLA Center.

A view of BELLA, the Berkeley Lab Laser Accelerator. (Credit Roy Kaltschmidt-Berkeley Lab)

To help foster the broad applicability of high-intensity lasers, the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley­ National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) is a partner in a new research network called LaserNetUS.

The network will provide U.S. scientists increased access to the unique high-intensity laser facilities at the Berkeley Lab Laser Accelerator (BELLA) Center and at eight other institutions: the University of Texas at Austin, Ohio State University, Colorado State University, the University of Michigan, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the University of Rochester, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

The initiative is funded by DOE’s Fusion Energy Sciences program (FES) within the Office of Science and includes institutions nationwide operating high-intensity, ultra­fast lasers.

LaserNetUS includes the BELLA petawatt laser at Berkeley Lab’s Accelerator Technology and Applied Physics Division, as well as other leading high-power lasers in the U.S.

Hui Chen looks through the Titan target chamber at LLNL’s Jupiter Laser Facility. The Jupiter Laser is part of LaserNetUS, an effort to restore high-intensity research in the U.S.

National Ignition Facility at LLNL

Rochester joins new nationwide high-intensity laser network.

U Rochester Laboratory for Laser Energetics

U Rochester OMEGA EP Laser System

U Rochester Omega Laser

UT Austin is home to one of the most powerful lasers in the country, the Texas Petawatt Laser. The university will receive $1.2 million to fund its part of the LaserNetUS network.

Ohio State First Light on Scarlet Laser 400 TW Upgrade

Colorado State University-The CSU Advanced Beam Laboratory’s ultra high-intensity laser and target chamber, now part of LaserNetUS.

University of Nebraska-Lincoln is founding member of laser-science network – A technician aligns a laser at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Extreme Light Laboratory. The university is one of nine founding members of the LaserNetUS network.

SLAC joins new LaserNetUS network to boost high-intensity laser research.
SLAC’s Matter in Extreme Conditions Instrument at the Linac Coherent Light Source will offer optical laser-only time to visiting scientists as a part of the LaserNetUS network. High intensity lasers at MEC coupled with the LCLS X-ray laser have been used to study extremely hot, dense matter found at the centers of stars and giant planets. (SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory)

Expanding access to key capabilities

“High-intensity and ultrafast lasers have come to be essential tools in many of the sciences, and in engineering applications as well,” said James Symons, Berkeley Lab’s associate laboratory director for its Physical Sciences Area.

They have a broad range of uses in basic research, manufacturing, and medicine. For example, they can be used to recreate some of the most extreme conditions in the universe, such as those found in supernova explosions and near black holes. They can generate high-energy particles for high-energy physics research (being explored at the BELLA Center) or intense X-ray pulses to probe matter as it evolves on ultrafast timescales. Also, lasers and laser-based systems can cut materials precisely, generate intense neutron bursts to evaluate aging aircraft components, and potentially deliver tightly focused radiation therapy to tumors, among other uses.

The petawatt-class lasers of the LaserNetUS partners generate light with at least 1 million billion watts of power. A petawatt is nearly 100 times the output of all the world’s power plants, and yet these lasers achieve this threshold in the briefest of bursts. Using a technology called “chirped pulse amplification,” which was pioneered by two of the winners of this year’s Nobel Prize in physics, these lasers fire off bursts of light shorter than a tenth of a trillionth of a second.

Maintaining U.S. leadership in a fast-moving global endeavor

The U.S. was the dominant innovator and user of high-intensity laser technology in the 1990s, but now Europe and Asia have taken the lead, according to a recent report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine titled “Opportunities in Intense Ultrafast Lasers: Reaching for the Brightest Light.” Currently, 80 to 90 percent of the world’s high-intensity ultrafast laser systems are overseas, and all of the highest-power research lasers that are currently in construction or have already been built are also overseas. The report’s authors recommended establishing a national network of laser facilities to emulate successful efforts in Europe. LaserNetUS was established for exactly that purpose.

LaserNetUS will hold a nationwide call for proposals for access to the network’s facilities. The proposals will be peer reviewed by an independent proposal review panel. This call will allow any researcher in the U.S. to get time on one of the high intensity lasers at the LaserNetUS host institutions.

Wim Leemans, director of Berkeley Lab’s Accelerator Technology and Applied Physics Division and of the BELLA Center, said, “This has the potential for huge leverage of existing and future investments in laser facilities. Researchers across the U.S. have great ideas for discovery science that depend on lasers, and LaserNetUS can connect them with beamtime at sources that meet their needs.”

The group held its first annual meeting at the University of Nebraska, home of the Extreme Light Lab, in August 2018, and will hold a nationwide call for user proposals to access the network’s facilities. The proposals will be peer-reviewed by an independent panel. This process will allow any researcher in the U.S. to request time on one of the high-intensity lasers at the LaserNetUS host institutions.

See the full article here .

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