The world’s most powerful laser, currently under construction in Magurele, just outside Bucharest, has been assembled and has started the first tests, Professor Nicolae Zamfir, director of the Extreme-Light Infrastructure – Nuclear Physics (ELI-NP) project, told News.ro. He estimates that the first laser beam will be obtained next autumn.
“The second stage of implementation has started, a stage in which the various components of the large equipment and experiments are being installed and tested. We’re on the final stretch toward completion. All components have been installed and the testing is being done gradually,” Zamfir stated for News.ro.
So far, the tests are looking good and are on schedule, according to the ELI-NP Director.
“The plan is to obtain the first laser beam next autumn, of course, of a lower power. It will take some time before maximum parameters of 10 PW are reached,” Zamfir pointed out.
These tests will last two years. “We hope to be fully operational sometime in the summer of 2019,” Zamfir said.
When it becomes operational, ELI-NP will be the most important scientific research centre in Romania.
The laser will help in the discovery of radioactive isotopes that may treat cancer, for instance, or in identifying the exact content of radioactive waste barrels without the need to open them, which is extremely difficult to do today.
The investment is estimated at 300 million euros and is financed with European grants.
The project started in January 2013 and the works are so far almost on schedule – with a delay of just a few months – and on budget, the project manager stated.
The laser in Magurele is considered the most powerful in the world, having the best equipment and the brightest Gamma beam.
A total of 140 persons are working on this project, 120 of whom are Romanian and foreign researchers from all over the world, who came to work on the biggest scientific project in which Romania is involved.
“We continue the recruitment, the evaluation of employees, the hiring. (…) We have researchers from Japan, China, Korea, India, Vietnam, Poland, Turkey, Bulgaria, Germany, France, United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, U.S., Canada,” Zamfir stated for News.ro in March.
Authorities say the project will put Romania back on the global research map. The investment will be used for fundamental research.
The laser will also be used for testing materials used in space missions, materials that are sent in space for long period of time.