The structure that will house the world’s most powerful laser received its inauguration in Prague on Monday, known as the Extreme Light Infrastructure (ELI) Beamlines facility. Upon its completion in 2018, ELI will be the world’s first international laser facility.
After installation is complete, ELI Beamlines will contain four lasers of differing powering levels that can also be used in synergy. The strongest of these will be the L4, with a power level of 10 petawatts, or one billion megawatts (1015 watts).
The director general of the ELI-DC International Association, Wolfgang Sandner, commented on the importance of the facility, “ELI as a whole will be the world’s first international laser facility, hosting today’s most sophisticated and most powerful lasers. It will attract the best scientists from all over the world to perform experiments at the frontier of science. Our vision is to make it the ‘CERN of laser research.”
The Prague facility will allow for previously impossible experiments in part due its ability to create ultra-short duration laser pulses. This capability will allow for new research in the fields of particle physics, materials science, medicine and others. Researchers speculate that it may lead to advances in medical X-ray imaging, nuclear fusion and nuclear waste treatment methods.
The ELI project is composed of three different facilities, with the remaining two located in Hungary and Romania. Once the three facilities are online in 2018, a new organization known as the European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC) will be in charge of operations, funding and governance.
According to Jan Řídký of the Czech Republic Institute of Physics, “The development of the unique technologies at ELI Beamlines is only possible in cooperation with the best domestic and international laboratories and companies. We succeeded and I believe that we have created a solid base for long-term partnership.”