Researchers in Japan have accomplished something that scientists all over the world have been working to do for years but have failed dramatically each time. Researchers at Osaka University managed to fire the most powerful laser to ever see Earth’s surface, in a test event, which generated more than 1,000 times more energy than is used here on Earth collectively. While that might seem like a difficult number to wrap ones’ mind around, it was so powerful that the laser beam was only able to able to last a brief moment in time. A single picosecond, according to the team.
The test run was successful, but the team pointed out that the competitive nature of procuring lasers is something that has created a lot of drive around the subject. Junji Kawanaka, who was a part of the study pointed out that, “With heated competition in the world to improve the performance of lasers, our goal now is to increase our output to 10 petawatts.” A petawatt is two quadrillion-watts.
The laser that performed the massive test is called LFEX, otherwise known as the Laser for Fast Ignition Experiments. In all, it measures a whopping 300-feet-long, ad is something that even scientists in the United States have been working with in recent years. However, as it was pointed out the actual amount of energy that is used initially isn’t nearly as great as one might be led to think with a project like this.
The energy being used in tests like this is only enough to power a light bulb for a second or two. However, as the scientists have learned – compressing the energy, and pushing it into a smaller window – where it is being released in a pico-second. This release in a very small window is where the true energy is created. It is created in such a small window that the power is then turned up a tremendous amount and can actually do remarkable things.
Long-term projects like this have the ability to actually change the way we create energy. Lasers have a point with technology going in the direction that it is, however, the big draw to this type of work is that the things learned in terms of energy consumption could actually be applied to energy science as a whole.