On April 13, 2023, the most powerful laser system in the world, designed, developed, installed by Thales at ELI- NP research center in Magurele, Romania, for its partner the IFIN-HH – Horia Hulubei National institute for R&D in Physics and Nuclear Engineering, and jointly operated by Thales and ELI –NP teams, has focused for the first time in the world 10 petawatt laser pulses on solid targets marking an important milestone in laser plasma physics.
Let's take a look back at this incredible technological success story at the service of research
On March 7, 2019, the laser system designed, developed,installed and jointly operated by Thales and ELI-NP - Extreme Light Infrastructure -Nuclear Physics in Romania successfully delivered its first pulses with a record peak power of 10 petawatts.
The two-arm high-power laser system (HPLS) demonstrated then the capability to deliver 2 × 10 PW femtosecond laser pulses. This demonstration led to a first scientific publication in December 2020 highlighting this remarkable achievement to the scientific community.
In August 2020, the Laser Beam Transport System (LBTS) allowing to steer the beams to the experimental chambers was installed.
In November 2020, the HPLS fired 10 petawatt laser shots at a frequency of one shot every minute at full energy compressed into less than 25 fs* : a new step forward for the research community. This new achievement led to a second scientific publication on May 24th, 2022.
On April 13, 2023, the Thales HPLS focused 10 petawatt laser pulses, on solid targets for the first time in the world, opening the door to further advancements in nuclear physics research.
Scientists from the Laser–Driven Experiments Department at ELI-NP, jointly with the Thales laser teams from France and Romania achieved this key milestone in the history of laser plasma physics thanks to excellent collaboration.
240 J of laser energy in a short pulse of 24 fs duration, that is 10 PW power, have been focused onto a thin metal foil of aluminum with the aim of generating particles and X-rays of high energy and brightness.
This achievement definitively validates and commissions the entire laser system up to the experimental area, making it possible to host scientific experiments from all over the world. It opens up great opportunities in many research directions both in fundamental physics and in societal applications.
*fs – femtosecond / J – joule / µm – micrometer / PW - petawatt
Read More about
2019 world premiere - World record for Thales Laser Tech ! | Thales Group
Dec 2020 publication - High-energy hybrid femtosecond laser system demonstrating 2 × 10 PW capability | High Power Laser Science and Engineering | Cambridge Core
May 2022 publication - 10 PW peak power femtosecond laser pulses at ELI-NP | High Power Laser Science and Engineering | Cambridge Core
Laser plasma interaction - Laser-plasma technology: the future of particle acceleration | Thales Group