The University of Michigan has developed a record-setting intense laser, HERCULES, that could help scientists develop better proton and electron beams for radiation treatment of cancer and explore new frontiers in science. This intensity is about two orders of magnitude higher than any other laser in the world can produce.
The pulsed laser beam lasts just 30 femtoseconds. A femtosecond is a millionth of a billionth of a second.
The record-setting beam measures 20 billion trillion watts per square centimeter. It contains 300 terawatts of power. That's 300 times the capacity of the entire U.S. electricity grid. The laser beam's power is concentrated to a 1.3-micron speck about 100th the diameter of a human hair. A human hair is about 100 microns wide.