Everyone knows that there is a very powerful laser somewhere on campus, but what exactly makes it so famous? The Lab for Laser Energetics was established at UR in 1970 as a center for the investigation of the interaction of intense radiation with matter. LLE is now home to the OMEGA laser system.

The 60-beam OMEGA laser is the world’s largest operating ultraviolet laser. Nine years ago, UR commenced a quest to develop nuclear fusion as an energy source. Scientists from all around the country utilize this laser to help with similar efforts to explore alternate energy sources.

Fusion is the nuclear process that powers stars. It is non-polluting and powered by hydrogen, so the fuel is nearly inexhaustible. According to LLE’s Web site, the center is dedicated to the investigation of the interaction of intense radiation with matter.

Less than a year ago, the United States Congress allocated $13 million to LLE for the construction of an extended performance laser system. The major OMEGA laser facility contains 60 individual laser beams to conduct fusion, and stockpile stewardship. The OMEGA EP will bring four additional beams online, making it even more powerful. With this new technology, it will be possible to create conditions similar to a star.

The scientists at LLE are currently researching what will one day become a vast source of power using the ocean’s ample storehouse of potential energy.

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