The first prototype of the most powerful solar laser on the planet which is able to cut metal like butter is now operating in Uzbekistan. The laser plant is powered by the world’s largest thickener of solar beams in the shape of a big concave mirror almost half the size of a football field. The thickener focuses up to 1 million watt capacity of radiant energy.
The accomplishment of the project “Development of optimal technology of conversion of solar energy into laser emission” is coordinated by the youngest Research Center of the country – the Institute of Materials Science SPU “Physics-Sun” of the Uzbek Academy of Science. The Institute of Nuclear Physics and SPU “Academpribor” also participate in the implementation of the project.
The research is carried out in a “science town” in sky-blue spurs of Tian-Shan mountains situated 45 kilometers from Tashkent. Here at the height of one thousand meters above sea level is where this unique thickener of solar beams is located. This huge and fantastic construction with more than 40 meters of height was planned and constructed in the late 20th century with the participation of a huge team of scientists under the guidance of famous Uzbek physicians, academicians Sadiq Azimov and Tukhtapulat Riskiyev.
The surface of the main mirror of the thickener is shaped like a concave paraboloid of revolution, on which 62 huge mirrors surrounding it refract solar beams. By day they automatically follow the sun like sunflowers and send its beams toward the main mirror. Then the flow of light collected by them goes to the technological eight floor tower where Uzbek scientists have installed an experimental solar laser.
For a not-well-informed visitor the top floor will look like a metallurgical workshop. Besides that, there will be a solar furnace instead of an open-hearth furnace. Here the heat of the sun brought through the vast expanses of the cold space, having revived in the mirrors, is collected on the fire ball with a diameter of 40 centimeters and can melt any known material on our planet. No wonder – in the focus of the thickener the temperature reaches 3000 degrees Celsius. The clot reminiscent the ball lightning and which absorbed indomitable solar energy the directed by a man can execute the most exotic tasks. By the project of the thickener it is stipulated to receive ultra-pure and refractory materials through the giant solar mirror, to test the new technical equipment on radial resistance etc. Now Uzbek scientists managed to use the giant thickener for provision of the powerful laser plant with power.
The biggest problem for developers of the unique laser became the prevention of its overheating. By the specially developed program the computer controls the cooling of the multi-crystal shanks of the laser with distilled water. The “electronic brain” also monitors the amount of the radiant energy received from the sun. It appeared to be enough to pass the energy barrier at which the laser shanks made of yttrium-aluminum garnet activated by the rare metal niobium begin to release a powerful narrow pencil of light with the wave length of 1.06 micron.
The field of application of solar lasers is very broad. In chemical technology they will help to correct the course of reactions at receiving materials with certain qualities. In metallurgy such plants are necessary for heat-resistant materials processing. In communication – for transferring huge flows of information to long distance. At the same time lasers will be much more effective than microwave and cable lines. And, of course, laser communication can be useful in space. It will allow carrying out transfers of information between artificial satellites to the Moon, Mars and other space objects. Even sending signals to recently discovered planets next to some stars.
The most important is that the new type of the laser solves the grandiose problem of creation of solar power stations in the orbit of the Earth, where the radiant intensity of the sun is 1.5-2 times more powerful. Such station settled on the geostationary satellite 40 thousand meter above Earth could transfer a powerful energy flow to the ground station, for example, in the Kyzylkum desert.
However, before sending the laser plant in space it should be tested in Earth conditions. So did the Uzbek scientists, who have proved in the experiment that powerful solar lasers can successfully operate in the solar energy flows here on Earth. Tests on the efficiency of solar lasers in the orbit to which the delivery of each kilogram costs a fortune, would demand multibillion expenses in USD terms.
The author of the idea of creation of the powerful solar laser on the base of the Big Solar Furnace and the participant of development of the unique thickener of radiant energy, the coordinator of the project “Development of optimal technology of conversion of solar energy into the laser emission”, the physician-engineer Abduhakim Fazilov has informed the correspondent of UT that the creation of the powerful solar laser in Uzbekistan opens the way for our country to enter the club of the states with modern space technologies. The opening prospects cannot be overestimated. Suffice it to say that solar lasers open another opportunity of using colossal sources of energy. Let’s say, for example, that the Sun sends to the Earth so much warmth every four days, which is equivalent to that which would be received from all sources of energy on the planet used at the same time. This practically is an eternal source of energy, at least, for the next few billions of years, and we owe our existence to it.