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£10 million laser delivered to Prague laser facility

The UK's Central Laser Facility has delivered £10 million worth of laser equipment to the HiLase centre in Prague for the most advanced high power laser of its kind.

The new laser technology for HiLase, a project in the Czech Republic tagged ‘new lasers for industry and research’, will benefit industry and science in areas ranging from welding to testing the resistance of optical materials. The setup will provide a laser capability significantly more powerful, efficient, and stable than current systems across Europe.

The system developed by scientists from the Centre for Advanced Laser Technology and Applications (CALTA) was a 100J diode-pumped solid-state (DPSS) laser system offering both high energy and high repetition rates.

Until now, there have either been high energy lasers which are limited to the order of pulses per hour, or systems that produce many pulses per second, but only at relatively low energy levels. The combination of the two paves the way for a broad field of new applications.

The laser system is said to be so complex that it has taken CALTA six weeks just to decommission and deliver to Prague.

‘The deliveries included seven optical tables totalling 18 metres in length and weighing 1.4 tonnes each. The overall system weighs 20 tonnes,’ said STFC’s John Hill. ‘The final delivery to arrive in the Czech Republic which sees the completion of this project was just one part of a much bigger system. Overall, two HGVs and three specialist RAL transports were used to move the system. The decommissioning and transport programme was extremely challenging and has taken six weeks to complete.’

John Collier, director of the CLF, added: ‘We are moving into new exciting times in the field of laser research. Being able to combine high energy and high repetition rates is a major step forward,’ he said. ‘Now proven at this current 100J energy level it has the potential to be scaled to even higher energies opening up a whole new realm of possibilities for both industry and research.’

Further information 

The Hilase project 

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