A state-of-the-art laser facility currently under construction in Prague is on the road to becoming one of Europe’s Centres of Excellence, thanks to a new partnership project with the UK Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC).
The Czech Institute of Physics’ HiLASE facility and the UK’s STFC Central Laser Facility (CLF) have been awarded around €500,000 in the first phase of funding for a new Teaming initiative under the EU’s Horizon 2020 framework programme. Competition for the funding is fierce and less than 20 percent of bids made it through this first stage.
The partners will use this money to build a strong business case for the partnership. The business case will go forward for examination at the second stage of the Teaming initiative. If they are successful at this stage the partners will receive further funding – which could be as much as €20M – to transform HiLASE into a technol ogically advanced Centre of Excellence, aimed at serving a broad scientific and industrial laser user community. This will allow HiLASE to access the world-leading expertise and technology already available within the CLF. It will also establish the Centre as an innovation hub, raising the region’s scientific and economic performance.
Professor Jan Ridky, Director of the Institute of Physics in Prague said: „We are delighted that we have been selected for the first stage of funding to develop a full business case for the implementation stage of our project. This is a wonderful opportunity for us to develop our HiLASE laser into a world class Centre of Excellence as a user facility. We are greatly looking forward to working with our STFC partners over the coming months.“
The Teaming initiative aims to establish and reinforce partnerships between countries with collaborations between regional research institutes and their international leading counterparts.
STFC’s CLF is recognised as a world leader in the development of the ‘next generation’ laser technology based on diode pumping, which is at the heart of this partnership project. This technology enables high power laser operation at high repetition rates of many pulses per second. It will drive new laser-based applications in industry, such as advanced material treatments and energy production.
Professor John Collier, Director of STFC’s Central Laser Facility, said: „Selection of our stage one proposal is excellent news. CLF and the Institute of Physics in Prague have a long and highly productive history of collaboration and partnership in many areas of laser development, and our user communities have conducted many successful experiments together. I congratulate the project team on their success and look forward to the next stage in the collaboration.”
The main goal of the HiLASE project is to develop laser technologies having breakthrough technical parameters. In general, those lasers will be significantly more powerful and efficient, more compact, more stable and more easily maintained than the currently available technology.
The HiLASE project focuses on development high-repetition lasers and laser systems that will find use in industry, in small- and medium-scale research laboratories and in the future European large-scale facilities that will be part of the European Research Area (ERA). The project will specifically focus on diode pumped solid state laser systems (DPSSLs) and on the development of associated technologies.
The HiLASE laser center with these parameters will be unique not only in the Czech Republic but also in Europe. This brings new opportunities for European research and for companies that will be able to benefit and contribute to applying these new technologies.
The project has great application potential in the commercial sphere. Outputs of the project will be used e.g. for micro-machining technologies, testing resistance of optical materials, cutting, welding, removal of deposits and laser peening. www.hilase.cz/en/
About the STFC Central Laser Facility
The Central Laser Facility (CLF) at the STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory is one of the world’s leading laser facilities providing scientists from the UK and Europe with an unparalleled range of state-of-the-art laser technology. The CLF’s wide ranging applications include experiments in physics, chemistry and biology, accelerating subatomic particles to high energies, probing chemical reactions on the shortest timescales and studying biochemical and biophysical process critical to life itself.
From advanced, compact, tunable lasers which can pinpoint individual particles to high power laser installations that recreate the conditions inside stars, a vigorous development programme ensures that our facilities maintain their international competitiveness. www.stfc.ac.uk/clf