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Inside the 20-Ton, $48M ‘Super’ Laser

It has 10 times more average power output than any other laser on the planet.

Last week a team comprised of scientists from Great Britain's Central Laser Facility and the Czech Republic’s High Average Power Pulsed Laser research and development project announced the successful testing of what they are deeming … a super laser.

I know what you’re thinking right now. Super. Really? Well, even though it’s not from Krypton, doesn’t involve football, and has nothing to do with small mustachioed video game characters leaping mushrooms or driving go-carts, trust me, it definitely warrants the title of ”super”.

The high peak power laser generates 1,000-watts of average power output, which means it puts out 10 times more average power than any other laser on the planet. It also weighs about 20 tons and carries a price tag of nearly $50 million.

Named "Bivoj" after a mythical Czech hero similar to Hercules, the laser could revolutionize engineering and manufacturing processes such as hardening metal surfaces, processing semiconductors and micro-machining a wide range materials in the aerospace, automotive and power industries.

Although there are lasers that can currently generate more top-end power than Bivoj, what makes it so super is that it can maintain an average output of 1,000 watts all day long.

More powerful lasers, like Petawatt units in Austin, TX and Osaka, Japan, need time to power-up in reaching their maximum output. So they’re limited in terms of how frequently they can be used – maybe just a handful of times within a 24-hour period.

They’re basically a really powerful one-shot deal, but it’s worth noting that one petawatt is equal to a quadrillion watts.

Whether it’s introduced as a “more powerful than a locomotive” super laser or Bivoj, plans are reportedly in place to commercialize the high peak power laser later this year.


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