Record-Breaking Laser Pulse Boosts Fusion Power Hopes
The world’s most powerful laser has fired a record-breaking pulse that exceeded even its own design goals. For 23 billionths of a second, the 192 ultraviolet lasers in the National Ignition Facility generated the equivalent of 411 trillion watts of peak power, which the NIF described as being 1,000 times more energy than the entire US uses “at any instant in time”. The pulse generated 2.03 million joules of total energy â€“ about 100 times more powerful than any other laser in existence.
The NIF’s goal is simple to explain but maddeningly complex and difficult to accomplish: to generate enough power to achieve fusion ignition and, therefore, produce energy gain in a laboratory setting.