National Energetics and EKSPLA awarded contract to build 10 Petawatt laser system
September 23 2014, Austin, Texas
A Consortium led by National Energetics, Inc., in partnership with Ekspla UAB, has been awarded a contract valued in excess of $40 million to develop and install an ultra-intense laser system for the European Union’s Extreme Light Infrastructure Beamlines facility (ELI-Beamlines) in Dolní Břežany near Prague in the Czech Republic.
The laser system will be capable of producing peak power in excess of 10 petawatts, making it the most powerful laser of its class in the world. It will be one of the four major beamlines at the new ELI-Beamlines facility that will allow novel research in areas such as plasma and high energy density physics, particle acceleration and investigations into molecular, biomedical and material sciences.
The consortium was chosen as the winning bidder after a rigorous and lengthy process following a down select from several candidates. National Energetics of Austin, TX has years of experience building and using Petawatt-class high energy ultrafast laser systems, and Ekspla, in Vilnius, Lithuania, brings world-class experience in lasers and power supply manufacturing. In addition to the two main Consortium team members, Lawrence Livermore National Labs (LLNL) will be under a subcontract for technology support and to manufacture the specialized gratings. Furthermore ELI-Beamlines will be collaborating directly with the Consortium on timing and controls. Finally Schott AG in Germany will supply the laser glass, which will be used in the large aperture laser amplifiers.
This 10 petawatt laser represents a major component of the ELI-Beamlines facility development. “Placement of the 10 PW laser contract concludes a major period of the ELI-Beamlines project: now, the design is completed and the construction of all laser systems, the heart of the future facility, will have started. We are very happy to find in the consortium – led by National Energetics, in partnership with Ekspla – a partner in development and delivery of one of the key technology blocks of the ELI-Beamlines facility. In the designed 10 PW laser the facility will obtain a unique and powerful tool which will help European and world research community to essentially advance knowledge in ultra-high-field frontier physics”, says Professor Jan Ridky, Director of the Institute of Physics of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic.
The laser system will yield pulse energies in excess of 1.5 kJ and pulse widths of approximately 150 fs delivered at a repetition rate of one shot per minute. The system utilizes technologies developed in collaboration with the University of Texas for the previously deployed Texas Petawatt laser in Austin such as optical parametric chirped pulse amplification followed by high energy amplification in glass disc amplifiers employing two kinds of laser glass. Novel liquid cooling technology developed at National Energetics, will allow the system to operate at repetition rates 20-times faster than any other kJ-class disc laser of its class. This ideally suits the laser system for its role as the premier laser in the ELI-Beamlines facility. The Czech ELI effort will be devoted to research in advanced particle acceleration and high energy density plasma physics.