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U of MI Produces Strongest Laser Ever 244

eldavojohn writes "Weighing in at a mere 20 billion trillion watts per square centimeter and containing a measly 300 terawatts of power, the University of Michigan has broken a record with a 1.3-micron speck wide laser. It's about two orders of magnitude higher than any other laser in the world and can perform for 30 femtoseconds once every ten seconds — some of the researchers speculate it is the most powerful laser in the universe. 'If you could hold a giant magnifying glass in space and focus all the sunlight shining toward Earth onto one grain of sand, that concentrated ray would approach the intensity of a new laser beam made in a University of Michigan laboratory ... To achieve this beam, the research team added another amplifier to the HERCULES laser system, which previously operated at 50 terawatts. HERCULES is a titanium-sapphire laser that takes up several rooms at U-M's Center for Ultrafast Optical Science. Light fed into it bounces like a pinball off a series of mirrors and other optical elements. It gets stretched, energized, squeezed and focused along the way.'" And ... cue the evil chortling.

Table Top USP Lasers Slice, Dice, and So Much More 79

UltravioletLED writes "A company in Petaluma, California has developed highly programmable desktop lasers. The same devices used in hospitals could also be used to turn any metal surface black by simply changing the software. From the article: 'The technology once filled a large room at DARPA until Raydiance scientists made it into a compact, tabletop unit. Schuler (The CEO) said he hopes it will replace just about any cutting device you can think of, from a big metal saw to a precise surgical blade ... Now that it's a little bigger than a breadbox, researchers want to use them to kill tumors, identify friend or foe during combat, and even remove tattoos.' Femtosecond lasers for eye surgery have been around for years now, but these new lasers are far smaller and promise to have much greater versatility."

"No, no, I don't mind being called the smartest man in the world. I just wish it wasn't this one." -- Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias, WATCHMEN