The Free-Electron Laser (FEL) achieved 10 kilowatts of infrared laser light, making it the most powerful tunable laser in the world.
The Free-Electron Laser (FEL), supported by the Office of Naval Research and located at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility, achieved 10 kilowatts of infrared laser light in late July, making it the most powerful tunable laser in the world. The recently upgraded laser’s new capabilities will enhance defense and manufacturing technologies, and support advanced studies of chemistry, physics, biology, and more.
"No other laser can provide the same benefits to manufacturing, medical research, biology, and basic physics," said ONR’s Directed Energy Program Officer, Mr. Quentin Saulter. "The Navy has chosen the FEL because it has multi-mission capabilities. Its unique, high-power and 24-hour capabilities are ideal for Department of Defense, industrial, and scientific applications."
The FEL program began as the One-Kilowatt Demonstration FEL, which broke power records and made its mark as the world’s brightest high average power laser. It delivered 2.1 kilowatts (kW) of infrared light, more than twice it was initially designed to achieve, before it was taken offline in November 2001 for an upgrade to 10 kW. "Whenever a technology gains a factor of ten improvement in performance, the achievement opens the door to many new applications, some foreseen, and some are simply very pleasant surprises," said Christoph Leemann, Jefferson Lab Director. "We look forward to operating this exciting new machine and carrying out the many experiments planned for it."
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