April 17, 2008 A team of researchers from the University of Texas at Austin has demonstrated the highest powered laser in the world. With greater than one quadrillion watts of laser power, the level of output achieved on March 31 by the Texas Petawatt laser is equivalent to more than 2,000 times the output of all power plants in the United States and brighter than the Sun's surface, according team leader and physicist at The University of Texas at Austin, Dr.Todd Ditmire.
The one quadrillion watt laser burst, which lasts just a 10th of a trillionth of a second (0.0000000000001 second) will be used to study the secrets of the universe by enabling examination of gases at extreme temperatures solids at pressures of many billions of atmospheres - even creating mini-supernovas and exploring energy made by controlled fusion.
“We can learn about these large astronomical objects from tiny reactions in the lab because of the similarity of the mathematical equations that describe the events,” said Ditmire, who directs the Texas Center for High-Intensity Laser Science.
Further info and images can be found at the Texas Petawatt Project site.