The US is all set to kick off a new era in high-powered laser experimentation this week, with scientists moving the final pieces into place for the Zetawatt-Equivalent Ultrashort pulse laser System (ZEUS) at the University of Michigan. The instrument is described as the most powerful laser system in the US, and will help researchers explore a wide range of phenomena, including quantum physics, space and next-generation cancer treatment.
ZEUS is the successor to 0.5-Petawatt Hercules laser at the University of Michigan, the instrument behind the Highest Intensity Focused Laser as crowned by the Guinness Book of Records in 2008. While it will have a maximum power of 3 Petawatts, ZEUS is designed to simulate a beam roughly a million times more powerful than that by shooting its laser at a high-energy electron beam going the opposite way.
Deploying ZEUS’s full power in this way will simulate a zetawatt laser pulse, which will enable scientists to study extreme plasmas and investigate what’s known as quantum electrodynamics. This is the leading theory on how the universe functions at a subatomic level and the experiments could lead to the creation of matter and antimatter that help explain the foundations of some of space’s most extreme objects.
To read more, click here.