Scientists in Shanghai claim to have developed the world’s most powerful laser, according to the South China Morning Post. Reporting a peak power of 5.13 petawatts (1 petawatt is equal to 1 billion million watts), the laser is more than twice as powerful as the previous record-holder, a 2-petawatt beam fired by Japanese researchers in July.
One minor problem with the laser – it can’t sustain power for long, lasting for a fleeting 30 femtoseconds (30 quadrillionths of a second).
Experts say that while future military applications cannot be ruled out, the laser’s lackluster endurance means it’s not exactly the Death Star. The total amount of energy generated by a single pulse was just 190 joules, barely enough to warm a cup of coffee.
“Conventional laser weapons take very different designs. The original purpose [of the Shanghai beam] is not to attach to frickin' sharks form part of a laser gun or cannon,” said Li Rukang, a researcher at Chinese Academy of Sciences’ key laser lab.
However, the potent beam could be helpful in finding new ways of generating nuclear power.