October 1, 2022

Taylor Daily Press

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laser

The most powerful laser in the United States is called ZEUS and has 3 petawatts (beta 15 zero) of power

Ann Arbor, Michigan (AP) The first trial will take place this week at a newly built facility at the University of Michigan (UM), which will house the most powerful laser in the United States.

The trial takes place at ZEUS – shortly before that Zettawatt . Ultrashort Pulsed Equivalent Laser System — By researchers at the University of California, Irvine. They traveled to Ann Arbor as part of their research into the extremely intense interactions of light and matter, and how these interactions can be used to reduce particle accelerators.

At the peak of its power, the ZEUS will be a 3-petawatt laser.

Three petawatts equals “3 with 15 zeros after it,” said Louise Willingel, an assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science in Michigan.

“3 petawatts are 3,000 times more powerful than the US power grid,” she said.

Michigan received $18.5 million from National Science Foundation To establish ZEUS as a federally funded international user facility.

Initially, the facility was – located in a building housing Gérard Moreau Ultrafast Optical Science Center From UM – hosting research teams conducting experiments using a fraction of the full power of the laser. The system will be gradually enhanced and ZEUS is expected to begin major trials in the fall of 2023.

The United States made the world’s first petawatt laser a quarter of a century ago, but it has failed to keep pace with the most ambitious regimes in Europe and Asia. While the ZEUS isn’t nearly as powerful as its overseas contemporaries, its approach will simulate a laser nearly a million times more powerful than 3 petawatts.

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ZEUS will primarily study extreme plasmas, a state of matter in which electrons have enough energy to escape atoms, creating a sea of ​​charged particles. Almost the entire universe is made of plasma. The sun is an example of plasma.

The experiments are expected to contribute to a better understanding of how the universe works at the subatomic level and how matter changes on rapid time scales. Scientists also hope it will lead to the development of smaller, more compact particle accelerators for medical imaging and therapy.

Willingel said ZEUS will have “a wide range of applications in science, technology, engineering and medicine.”

Proposals to use ZEUS will be reviewed by a third party Team of scientists and engineers. Because of funding from NSF, there is no cost to users whose trial proposals are selected to conduct research, other than their own travel costs to the facility.

Willingel said proposals would be selected on the basis of scientific merit and technical feasibility.

Franklin Dollar, associate professor in the Cal Irvine Department of Physics and Astronomy, and four UCLA students arrived in Michigan last week to set up their experiment.

“One of the biggest challenges in our field is getting high-quality, intense laser light,” Dollar said. “ZEUS will not only be the most powerful laser beam on the continent, but perhaps more importantly, it will provide several powerful beams.

“Instead of just producing high-energy plasma with a laser, there is another beam that can also interact with the plasma,” he said.

ZEUS is an upgrade to the 0.5 petawatt laser from the University of Michigan known as HERCULES.

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While researchers in Michigan are happy with the birth of ZEUS, they realize that their naming does not quite match the chronology of Greek mythology.

“Hercules was the ancestor of ZEUS,” Willingel said. “It’s a bit retarded, because Hercules was the son of Zeus.

“So we build father after son.”