BELLA (laser)

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The Berkeley Lab Laser Accelerator or BELLA is a laser built by the Thales Group and owned and operated by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.[1][2] On 20 July 2012 BELLA fired a 40 femtosecond laser pulse, establishing a world record for most powerful laser.[2][3]

BELLA was designed and built by Thales as part of the Laser and Optical Accelerator Systems Integrated Studies (LOASIS) program at LBNL. The LOASIS group studies the application of high-powered lasers to build compact particle accelerators. The BELLA laser was developed for the purposes of studying this principle.[2][3] The idea is that a laser which delivers a large amount of power in a very short pulse can cause ionization in a gas followed by plasma oscillation.[3] As a result the gas will emit electron bundles which can be used for medical imaging or materials research.[2][3]

On 20 July 2012, BELLA fired a laser pulses with a duration of 40 femtoseconds and a repetition frequency of 1 hertz. The pulses had a compressed output energy of 42.2 joule, making the power output of the laser 1 petawatt:

{42.2 J \over 40 fs} = {42.2 J \over 40*10^{-15} s} \approx 1*10^{15} J/s = 1 PW

This result established BELLA as the highest peak power laser in the world (at a 1 Hz repetition rate).[1][2][3]


  1. ^ a b "Petawatt Laser Achieves Record Power". 1 August 2012. Retrieved 14 September 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Paul Preuss (July 27, 2012). "BELLA Laser Achieves World Record Power at One Pulse Per Second". Berkely Lab News Letter. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Retrieved 14 September 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Heirbaut, Jim (31 August 2012). van den Brink, Erwin, ed. "Surfen op plasmagolven" [Surfing on waves of plasma]. De Ingenieur (in Dutch) (Veen Magazines) 124 (13): 11. ISSN 0020-1146.