Powerful laser system achieved through beam expanders

21st November 2016
Anna Flockett


The first of ten high performance beam expanders have been supplied to Thales, from Optical Surfaces. The beam expanders for the Extreme Light Infrastructure for Nuclear Physics (ELI-NP) project are to develop the world’s most powerful laser system.

Offering a high level of power in ultra-short pulses, the two new ten petawatt (1,000,000,000,000,000) high intensity lasers will be delivered to the Horia Hulubei National Institute of Physics & Nuclear Engineering (IFIN-HH) in Magurele, Romania. The €60m contract awarded to Thales to develop the laser systems is the largest contract by a national research institute under a European-funded programme.

Due to be operational by 2018 the new lasers will pave the way for the development of a new generation of powerful particle accelerators, which will be smaller and less costly, for fundamental research in material physics and medical applications including proton beam therapy for treating cancer.

Thales selected Optical Surfaces to manufacture and supply 4x580mm aperture and 6x200mm aperture laser beam expanders for the ELI-NP project.

Dr Aris Kouris, Sales Manager for Optical Surfaces commented: “To be chosen as a supply partner for such a prestigious project is a great honour. Drawing upon many decades experience in laser beam expander design and manufacture we were able to deliver systems that provided the required high performance whilst maintaining cost competitiveness.”

Kouris added: “In addition to improving beam collimation, beam expanders can be used to focus laser beams. By producing an expanded beam our systems are able to produce smaller laser spot sizes when used in combination with additional focusing optics. This is very useful in laser focusing optimisation.”

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