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Dr. Evil would be proud of The University of Texas's petawatt laser.
The lasers at night, are big and bright, deep in the heart of Texas

The most powerful laser in the world was announced at the University of Texas at Austin last week. The massively powerful laser is rated at one petawatt and is the only petawatt laser operating in the United States.

A petawatt is one quadrillion watts and when the laser is turned on it generates the power output of more than 2,000 times all of the power plants in America according to Todd Ditmire a physicist at the university.

Ditmire goes on to say that the laser is brighter than sunlight on the surface of the sun when activated. For those wondering how exactly the university keeps from bursting into flames when the laser is on Ditmire says that the laser is activated for a 10th of a trillionth of a second (0.0000000000001 second).

Researchers at the University of Texas plan to use the massive laser to create environments similar to extreme conditions in the universe. The researchers plan to study gases at temperatures greater than those in the sun and solids at billions of atmospheres of pressure.

The researchers also say that they plan to create mini-supernovas, tabletop stars and very high-density plasmas that mimic brown dwarfs. The powerful laser will also allow the study of advanced ideas for creating energy by controlled fusion.

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RE: Capacitors
By VahnTitrio on 4/8/2008 2:02:21 PM , Rating: 2
A single capacitor could easily store the amount of charge the laser would require. The problem is for a brief moment in time this thing is going to draw a ton of current. There will be some inductance within the conductors that will not allow the current to increase that quickly. Similar to the rail gun problem they must have found a way to get the inductance down to effectively zero.

RE: Capacitors
By emboss on 4/8/2008 2:41:19 PM , Rating: 5
The "capacitor" is the population inversion in the lasing material - essentially an optical capacitor as opposed to an electrical one. As the pulse passes through the lasing material, stimulated emission results in the pulse being amplified.

The main problem with cranking up laser power at this level is intensity. Whatever the lasing medium is has to survive this incredibly high intensity pulse passing through it, as do any other optical elements such as mirrors. In order to get around this, they stretch the pulse before injecting it and compress it when it comes back out again (very, very, simplified description of course).

The only way it's similar to the rail gun problem is that in both cases, if you push it too far it breaks in rather expensive ways :)

RE: Capacitors
By phxfreddy on 4/8/2008 3:45:13 PM , Rating: 2
Pay attention boys....ITS NOT ON LONG. Intensity or not its PULSED.

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