Photo: Damien Jemison/LLNL
The European Union will spend approximately $900 million on a project to build the world’s most intense, powerful laser beam in order to eviscerate nuclear waste and possibly provide new cancer treatments as well.The EXTREME LIGHT INFRASTRUCTURE project (ELI) involves nearly 40 research and academic institutions from 13 different states within the European Unioin.
ELI’s coordinator at its Romanian facility, Nicolae-Victor Zamfir, told Bloomberg that the lasers are “10 times more powerful than any yet built and will be strong enough to create subatomic particles in a vacuum, similar to conditions that may have followed the start of the universe.”
“Eventually,” according to Zamfir, “the power of the light beams could be used to deteriorate the radioactivity of nuclear waste in just a few seconds and target cancerous tumors.”
The cancer treatment would be similar to a current experiential process known as hadron therapy. The therapy is particularly effective in targeting cancers located in areas “which are inaccessible to the surgeon’s instruments or which are hard to treat by radiotherapy,” like brain tumors, those in areas close to the spinal cord, or inside the eye.
There will be four separate sites throughout Europe that make up the facility when it is completed: the one in Romania, another in Hungary, a third in the Czech Republic, and a fourth in a location that has yet to be named (but will be by the end of 2012).
The laser is expected to become operational in 2017.
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