British scientists will build the most powerful laser in the world, capable of producing a beam one million, one billion, one billion times brighter than the sun.
The £85m Vulcan 20-20 laser, to be built in Oxfordshire, is expected to accelerate advances in nuclear fusion, renewable energy and batteries.
A single laser pulse from the new machine, lasting a trillionth of a second, will deliver more energy than the entire National Grid.
And it will be 20 times more powerful than the current dominant laser, the Vulcan, which is primarily used to study plasma physics.
Construction of the laser will take six years to complete and scientists hope it can provide a better understanding of astrophysical phenomena such as supernovae and solar flares.
The new laser will be 20 times more powerful than the current dominant laser, the Vulcan (pictured), which is mainly used to study plasma physics.
Experts say it could also be used to study a new method of particle acceleration for potential cancer radiotherapy treatments.
Science Minister George Freeman said: “Reestablishing Britain as home to the world’s most powerful laser is an exciting opportunity to explore the unexplored in astronomy and physics, move towards new sources of clean energy for the good of our planet and much more”.
The laser will be built at the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s (STFC) Central Laser Facility in Harwell.
The facility has received £85 million from UK Research and Innovation, the government-backed science funder.
The first stage of work, disassembling the Vulcan laser to make room for its successor, has just begun.
Professor Mark Thomson, chief executive of STFC, said: “The Central Laser Facility has been a driving force behind discoveries that have advanced our understanding of a range of areas, from the fundamental properties of matter under extreme conditions to star formation. and planets”.