Powerful Laser Incorporates Ceramic Reflector
Morgan Advanced Materials has developed the ceramic reflector for the world's most powerful laser system.
The ceramic reflector for what will reportedly be the world’s most powerful laser system has been developed and manufactured by Morgan Advanced Material’s Technical Ceramics business in the UK. The reflector was developed for use in a new 10-petawatt (10 x 1,015 W) laser system that will be used for the Extreme Light Infrastructure Beamlines facility in the Czech Republic. The laser will achieve output pulses with energies in excess of 1.5 kJ that are under 150 femtoseconds in duration, with a once-a-minute repetition rate. The power output during the ultra-short pulse of the laser will be approximately 100 times greater than the global power usage.
The reflector has been specially engineered for National Energetics in the U.S., which is responsible for building the laser system. Morgan’s contribution to the project consists of two differently sized reflector assemblies, both with five precision ceramic components. To provide the optimum solution for each part in the assemblies, Morgan used three of its high-purity alumina grades, each having unique properties offering electrical insulation, mechanical strength, and superior reflectivity performance.
In mainstream flash lamp laser systems, designers typically choose between ceramic or gold-coated metal reflectors. In addition to being more economical than gold-coated parts for the size of reflector required, Morgan’s engineered ceramic reflector has been proven to provide improved reflectivity performance, reflecting almost 100% of light between 500-2,000 nm wavelengths. This high reflectivity prevents the ceramic from absorbing the lamp energy and heating up.
The material composition of Morgan’s ceramic reflector has been developed to offer improved laser gain over other materials, ensuring that the user receives maximum energy output and efficiency from the laser. Maximizing the gain from each amplifier that contains the ceramic components minimizes the number of amplifier modules required and therefore the size and overall cost of the system.
Another benefit of National Energetics’ laser is the liquid cooling system, which enables quicker cycling of the laser. As a result, users are able to pulse the laser once per minute instead of the once per hour that existing systems allow. This compresses the amount of time needed to conduct experiments and collect data, maximizing throughput in the facility.
“We are proud to have developed one of the largest ceramic reflectors ever for this project,” said Oliver Ridd, part of the Technical Ceramics team with Morgan Advanced Materials. “Using ceramic for this project has proved to be an effective move, and we are now looking to engage with other commercial and industrial projects of a similar nature where our ceramic material will provide performance benefits. We are delighted to have worked with National Energetics to provide an integral component for this extraordinary cutting-edge laser.”
Once installed, the laser is expected to become an invaluable tool in furthering the understanding of astrophysical phenomena and investigating new physics at previously unattainable light intensities. It will be housed in the government-funded facility to aid scientific research for global projects. National Energetics’ laser system is currently on track for delivery to the Czech Republic in 2018.