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Orion laser facility

Orion is one of the most powerful lasers and largest laser facilities in the UK.

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A unique national asset

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World-class expertise

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Orion laser facility

The Orion laser facility is used to conduct research into high energy density physics phenomena, which occur at the heart of a nuclear explosion or the interior of a star.

Orion will generate matter many times denser than solid, similar to that found at the centre of a giant planet such as Jupiter. At temperatures in excess of 10 million degrees, Orion can replicate conditions found at the centre of the Sun. These phenomena cannot be found anywhere else on planet Earth.

The facility consists of a large neodymium glass laser system housed in a room the size of a football pitch. The laser has to be operated in ultra-clean conditions; better than those found in a hospital’s operating theatre.

Orion delivers a combination of ten ‘long-pulse’ beams (a thousand millionth of a second in duration) and two petawatt beams (some of the most powerful laser beams ever created). The laser beams are directed into the Target Hall where the experiments are conducted in a 4-metre diameter target chamber operated at ultra-high vacuum.

Although designed to fulfil the needs of our internal programme, a strong link with the academic community is  promoted by allocating up to 15% of system time each year for collaborative experiments. The call and selection of suitable experimental proposals is managed through the Central Laser Facility at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory.

For more information about Orion, see our Orion fact sheet.

2015 is the International Year of Light (IYOL) – an international celebration of the impact thatIYOL_footer light has had on science, technology, the arts, culture and everyday life.  AWE  is a proud supporter of  the IYOL.