UK's University of Strathclyde has acquired a powerful laser with multiple scientific applications such as medical imaging and cancer treatment.

Designed and built by technology firm Thales, the laser is reported to recreate the stars' physical conditions such as pressures and temperatures. It also has a high repetition rate for peak powers and the capacity to emit the bursts of light that are equivalent to 20-times the power consumed on Earth in a fraction of a second.

Currently available at the Strathclyde-based Scottish Centre for the Application of Plasma-based Accelerators (SCAPA), the laser has applications in radiotherapy and generating radioisotopes for imaging and cancer therapy.

Strathclyde Physics Department research fellow and SCAPA laser manager Dr Gregor Welsh said: “This is a world-leading laser for any university. Indeed, we believe it is the highest average powered lab-based laser of its type anywhere in the world.

“It acts as a light source which drives the applications and produces X-ray pulses that are short enough to take snapshots of molecular or solid-state processes.”

"Our acquisition of this type of laser reflects Strathclyde’s status as a world-class centre of physics."

The laser is capable of producing beams with peak power of 350TW for 25 femtoseconds. It can produce approximately 14J of energy per pulse at five pulses per second (5Hz).

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SCAPA director professor Dino Jaroszynski said: “Our acquisition of this type of laser reflects Strathclyde’s status as a world-class centre of physics.

“Its important applications underline Strathclyde’s international reputation for research with impact. It also forms part of a valuable training facility for PhD students.”    

Worth £3.5m, the device has been funded by Strathclyde and the Scottish Universities Physics Alliance (SUPA).