Most powerful laser blast ever has been fired in Japan

29 Jul 2015

If you want lasers done right, then look no further than Japan, as the most powerful laser blast ever has been achieved at Osaka University, measuring in at 1,000-times the world’s energy consumption, albeit very, very briefly.

Designated the Laser for Fast Ignition Experiments (LFEX), the most powerful laser blast ever was created by the 100m-long light cannon by applying energy to special glass using devices resembling ordinary fluorescent tubes, repeatedly amplifying the power of the beam.

Built at the end of last year, the team managed to achieve the mind-bogglingly large energy output of a two petawatt, or two quadrillion-watt energy beam, which sounds either terrifying or amazing, depending on who you are talking to.

However, the idea that this laser will soon be rigged up to a planet-like spacecraft to blow up nearby planets is still in the realms of science fiction as the Osaka University team says the laser beam was only powerful enough to run a microwave for about two seconds.

They were able to attain the massive output by concentrating the power to one picosecond, or one-trillionth of a second, which isn’t long enough to do any damage.

Based off these figures, the LFEX is 100-times more powerful than the previous record set by the Texas Petawatt at the University of Texas, Austin, which achieved two petawatts for one picosecond.

The Osaka team isn’t taking its achievement as the end, however, and is already beginning work on developing a 10 petawatt laser, five times the power of the LFEX… be afraid.

Laser beams image via Douglas Muth/Flickr

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic