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Vulcan petawatt: Design, operation and interactions at 5 × 1020 Wcm−2


The Vulcan Nd:glass laser at the Central Laser Facility (CLF) is a petawatt (1015 Watts) interaction facility, designed to deliver irradiance on target of−2 for the UK and international user community. The facility came online to users in 2002 and considerable experience has been gained operating Vulcan in this mode. The facility delivers a wide-ranging experimental program in fundamental physics and advanced applications. This includes the interaction of ultrahigh intensity light with matter, fast ignition fusion research, photon induced nuclear reactions, electron and ion acceleration by light waves, and the exploration of the exotic world of plasma physics dominated by relativity. We report on the first year's operation of the facility and the highlights of the experimental campaigns.

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Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Colin Danson, CCLRC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Chilton, Didcot, Oxon, OX11 0QX United Kingdom. E-mail:
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Collier, J. et al. (1999). Evaluation of an ultrabroadband high-gain amplification technique for cpa facilities. App. Opt. 38, 7486.

Danson, C.D. et al. (1998). Well characterized 1019Wcm−2 operation of VULCAN: An ultrahigh power Nd:glass laser. J. Modern Opt. 45, 1653.

Ledingham, K.W.D. et al. (2003). Laser-driven phototransmutation of 129I: A long lived nuclear waste product. J. Phys. D: Appl. Phys. 36, L79L82.

Mulser, P. & Bauer, D. (2004). Fast ignition of fusion pellets with superintense lasers: Concepts problems and prospectives. Laser Part. Beams 22, 5.

Mulser, P. & Schneider, R. (2004). On the inefficiency of hole boring. Laser Part. Beams 22, 157.

Strickland, D. & Mourou, G. (1985). Compression of amplified chirped optical pulses. Opt. Comm. 56, 219.

Tabak, M. et al. (1994). Ignition and high gain with ultrapowerful lasers. Phys Plasmas 1, 1626.

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Laser and Particle Beams
  • ISSN: 0263-0346
  • EISSN: 1469-803X
  • URL: /core/journals/laser-and-particle-beams
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