Revolutionary laser system proposed to produce next generation LHC

Last Updated: Fri, Mar 29, 2013 10:00 hrs

An international team of physicists has proposed a telecommunications technology inspired laser system to produce the next generation of particle accelerators like the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).

The International Coherent Amplification Network (ICAN) sets out a new laser system composed of massive arrays of thousands of fibre lasers, for both fundamental research at laboratories such as CERN and more applied tasks such as proton therapy and nuclear transmutation.

Lasers can provide, in a very short time measured in femtoseconds, bursts of energy of great power counted in petawatts or a thousand times the power of all the power plants in the world.

The ICAN consortium, an EU-funded project initiated and coordinated by the Ecole polytechnique and composed of the University of Southampton's Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC), Jena and CERN, as well as 12 other prestigious laboratories around the world, aims to harness the efficiency, controllability, and high average power capability of fibre lasers to produce high energy, high repetition rate pulse sources.

The aim is to replace the conventional single monolithic rod amplifier, which typically equips lasers with a network of fibre amplifiers and telecommunication components.

Gerard Mourou of Ecole polytechnique who leads the consortium said that this feature is of paramount importance when everyone knows that high energy physics is limited by the prohibitive size of accelerators, of the size of tens of kilometres, and cost billions of Euros.

Dr Bill Brocklesby from the ORC said that a typical CAN laser for high-energy physics may use thousands of fibres, each carrying a small amount of laser energy.

He asserted that it offers the advantage of relying on well tested telecommunication elements, like fibre lasers and other components.

He added that fibre laser offers an excellent efficiency due to laser diode pumping. It also provides a much larger surface cooling area and therefore makes possible high repetition rate operation.

The results of this study have been published in Nature Photonics. (ANI)

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