On 16 September 2013, the Extreme Light Infrastructure [ELI] Beamlines facility awarded a contract worth approximately €34.5m to the Lawrence Livermore National Security LLC [LLNS] to develop and deliver a state-of-the-art laser system that will be at the heart of the ELI Beamlines user facility.
Located in the village of Dolní Břežany, Czech Republic, the ELI Beamlines facility aims to pioneer work in a number of research fields using ultra-high intensity lasers. The facility will host a cutting-edge research laser, around 100 times more powerful than any other laser in operation today. In particular, it will focus on providing users with ultra-short energetic particle (10 GeV) and radiation beams (up to a few MeV) produced by compact laser plasma accelerators. The facility will be operational in 2016.
The laser system to be designed by LLNS will combine sophisticated semiconductor diode laser technology with advanced optics, integrated control systems and techniques for managing the production of ultra-short light pulses.
LLNS will work with scientists from the Institute of Physics of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic to design, develop, assemble and test the system at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. After completion, the laser system will be transported to the ELI Beamlines facility in the Czech Republic in 2016 where, after approximately 18 months of commissioning, it will be ready for use by the international scientific community.
The ELI Beamlines facility is a joint investment of nearly €300m by the European Union and the Czech Republic. It forms part of the pan-European ELI project, comprising nearly 40 research and academic institutions from 13 EU Members States, and aims to host the most intense lasers in the world. The facility, based on four sites, will be the first large scale research infrastructure based in the Central and Eastern European Member States of the EU and has obtained a financial commitment exceeding €700m.
The ELI project includes construction of three other major new facilities: the ELI-ALPS facility, to be sited in Hungary, which will investigate natural phenomena on ultra-short timescales, and the ELI-NP facility, to be sited in Romania, which will open up the new field of photonuclear physics. A fourth and more powerful laser will be constructed later, drawing on the lessons learned from the three prototypes, in a location still to be decided.