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Powerful Applications

With more power than 100,000 Hoover Dams. For 30 billionths of one millionth of a second, this is the Diocles Laser, housed in UNL's new Extreme Light Laboratory. Diocles and physicist Donald Umstadter, principal scientist and director of the laboratory, are putting UNL at the forefront of international high field physics and laser research.

Diocles is remarkable not only because it is extremely powerful and ultra-fast, but because it is so small. Diocles fits in only 15-by-15 foot square space -- the size of an office -- taking the "big" out of "big science."

Small size and high power also mean Diocles can enable new technologies and applications never before possible. Diocles can potentially produce x-rays that can "see through" four-inch-thick steel to detect bombs hidden in a cargo container, or hairline cracks in a jet turbine. The laser is small and inexpensive enough for hospitals to potentially use it as a proton source for cutting-edge cancer therapy.

What is special about the Diocles laser?

It has the highest combination of peak and average power of any in the U.S. In fact, its peak power (1014 watts) is greater than all of the world's power plants combined. The trick is that the burst of light only lasts a tiny fraction of a second (10-14 seconds).