World's most powerful laser fired in Japan

World's most powerful laser fired in Japan

Laser engineers at the University of Osaka say that they've fired a laser beam equivalent to 1,000 times the world's electricity consumption, though it was only in operation for one trillionth of a second.

The team shot the two-quadrillion-watt laser using a huge 100-metre-long machine, relying on four sets of devices that amplify the power smaller lasers. "With heated competition in the world to improve the performance of lasers, our goal now is to increase our output to 10 petawatts," said the University's Junji Kawanaka.

We are all made of lasers

Meanwhile, an unrelated experiment at Harvard Medical School has created lasers out of human cells. Matjaž Humar and his colleagues injected oil droplets into cells to create a cavity which was then filled with fluorescent dye.

After shining a light pulse on the cell, the dye atoms emitted light in a tightly-focused beam. Similar processes were then performed using polystyrene beads in white blood cells, and using the fatty droplets that exist naturally in living cells (pictured above).

"We all have these fat cells inside our tissue," Humar told New Scientist. "We are all made of lasers." It's hoped that the research, which was published in Nature Photonics, could allow individual cells to be marked to track the progress of tumours.

Duncan Geere
Duncan Geere is TechRadar's science writer. Every day he finds the most interesting science news and explains why you should care. You can read more of his stories here, and you can find him on Twitter under the handle @duncangeere.