The World's Most Powerful Laser Has Been Fired in Japan

By Jamie Condliffe on at

Take cover: scientists from Osaka University have begun using the world’s most powerful laser, that pumps out 2 quadrillion watts. That’s 2,000,000,000,000,000 watts.

But don’t panic too much. While such a laser in continous use would demand more power than the world could feasibly supply to it, the device in fact only runs for one trillionth of a second. That means that it actually use a relatively modest amount of energy to run.

As Engadget points out, the Laser for Fast Ignition Experiments actually only used a few hundred Joules for this first trial run (about as much as a microwave oven uses in a few seconds). The high powers are generated not with huge currents, then, but by amplifying the signal through a series of glass lamps over the span of its 100-metre length.

Like any over-excitable team of scientists, though, 2 quadrillion watts (sometimes referred to as 2 petawatts) is not enough. “With heated competition in the world to improve the performance of lasers, our goal now is to increase our output to 10 petawatts,” Junji Kawanaka, one of the researchers, explained in a press release. [Osaka University via Popular Science via Engadget]

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