X-ray laser fires most powerful pulse ever recorded

The most powerful X-ray pulse ever reported carried nearly a terawatt of power

Illustration Greg Stewart/Photography Alberto Gamazo/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

The most powerful pulse of X-rays ever reported has been produced at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in California. In only 440 billionths of a billionth of a second, or attoseconds, it packed nearly a terawatt of power – a thousand times more than the average yearly output of a nuclear power plant.

“In the near term, it will be hard to do better,” says Agostino Marinelli at SLAC, who worked on the project.

Article amended on 23 May 2024

We corrected how long the X-ray pulse lasted

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