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UK To Build World’s Most Powerful Laser: “Million, Billion, Billion Times Brighter Than Sun”

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The new Vulcan laser will be 100 times brighter than its predecessor

The UK is set to build the world’s most powerful laser, which is said to be a “million, billion, billion” times brighter than the sun, The Times reported. Notably, The UK Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) has been awarded funding of 85 million pounds to upgrade its Vulcan system, with the aim of turning it into the most powerful laser in the world.

The device known as the Vulcan 20-20, which is being built at the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) Central Laser Facility (CLF) in Oxfordshire, is expected to revolutionise scientific research and lead to new discoveries in areas such as clean energy and cancer treatment.

It is named as such because it will generate a main laser beam with an energy output of 20 Petawatts (PW) alongside eight high-energy beams with an output of up to 20 Kilojoules (KJ). 

”This is a 20-fold increase in power, which is expected to make it the most powerful laser in the world. And a single pulse from the laser will deliver more power than the entire National Grid,” said funding body UK Research and Innovation.

Currently, the most powerful laser at CLF is the Vulcan laser, which has a wide range of uses, especially in plasma physics. However, the new Vulcan laser will be 100 times brighter than its predecessor and exponentially brighter than the Sahara Desert’s brightest sunlight. 

”Reestablishing Britain as home to the world’s most powerful laser is an exciting opportunity to explore the unexplored in astronomy and physics, stride towards new clean energy sources for the good of our planet, and much more,” said George Freeman, Science Minister. 

The project is due to be completed by 2029 and is expected to create a range of new jobs for scientists.

”By investing 85m pounds to give our research community the edge in leading crucial scientific discoveries, we are also delivering hundreds of highly skilled jobs in science and engineering that boost the UK science sector and grow our economy,” Mr Freeman added. 

”Vulcan has been the flagship laser at CLF for many years, and is widely recognized internationally as a pioneering facility. Over the past 40 years, it has made important contributions to plasma physics research and hundreds of PhD students have been trained at the facility. It is timely for Vulcan to undergo its next major upgrade, making it ready to serve a new generation of scientists, ensuring the UK retains its leadership role in this field,” said Professor John Collier, Director of CLF in a statement.