The preamplifiers of the National Ignition Facility are the first step in increasing the energy of laser beams as they make their way toward the target chamber. NIF recently achieved a 500 terawatt shot - 1,000 times more power than the United States uses at any instant in time. Photo by Damien Jemison/LLNL

The 500-Terawatt Laser Shot

by / July 17, 2012

 

Fifteen years of work by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's (LLNL) National Ignition Facility (NIF) team paid off on July 5 with a historic record-breaking laser shot, according to LLNL. The NIF laser system of 192 beams delivered more than 500 trillion watts (terawatts or TW) of peak power and 1.85 megajoules (MJ) of ultraviolet laser light to its target. Five hundred terawatts is 1,000 times more power than the United States uses at any instant in time, and 1.85 megajoules of energy is about 100 times what any other laser regularly produces today.

Shown above are the preamplifiers of the NIF, which are the first step in increasing the energy of laser beams as they make their way toward the target chamber. 
 
Photo by Damien Jemison/LLNL