Discovering Uncharted Grounds with the World’s Most Powerful Laser

Discovering Uncharted Grounds with the World’s Most Powerful Laser

In the control room of a research center in Romania, part of the European Union’s Infrastructure ELI project, engineer Antonia Toma activates the world’s most powerful laser. This laser, located near the Romanian capital Bucharest, is operated by the French company Thales and utilizes Nobel prize-winning inventions. France’s Gerard Mourou and Donna Strickland of Canada were awarded the 2018 Nobel Physics Prize for their work on harnessing the power of lasers for advanced precision instruments.

“The sharp beams of laser light have given us new opportunities for deepening our knowledge about the world and shaping it,” the Nobel Academy’s citation said. Mr. Mourou, who spent 30 years in the U.S. before bringing this project to fruition in Europe, expressed his emotions about the project’s success, describing it as an “incredible odyssey”. He explained the process of amplifying a small luminous seed with minimal energy to achieve phenomenal powers.

Potential applications of this powerful laser include treating nuclear waste to reduce its radioactivity duration and cleaning up debris in space. Mr. Mourou believes that just as the last century was focused on the electron, the 21st century will be characterized by the laser.

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