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NIF sets record with 500 TW laser shot, lab-based nuclear fusion not far behind

Sarah Silbert
07.15.12
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In an effort to recreate the fusion reaction that occurs in start formation, the National Ignition Facility in Livermore, CA has been building up to some extremely powerful laser shots. Back in March, researchers fired off 411 terawatts, and we know that kind of power doesn't come cheap. NIF's latest test shot, fired July 5th, set a new record with 192 lasers producing more than 500 trillion watts of peak power and 1.85 MJ of ultraviolet laser light. Mind you, that's more than a thousand times more energy than the United States uses at any given moment, not to mention a hundred times more power than other lasers can fire consistently. More record-setting shots are sure to come, and in addition to enabling research on harnessing nuclear fusion, NIF's mega-lasers are helping inform the design of new laser facilities being built in China, Japan, Russia, France and the UK.

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