STFC lab wins major Czech contract

Scientists in the UK have won a major Czech research contract worth £10 million to develop laser technology.

The contract has been won by the Central Laser Facility (CLF) at the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) in Oxfordshire and comes from the HiLASE project being constructed near Prague in the Czech Republic.

The goal of HiLASE, which has investment to the tune of £30 million, is to develop new laser technology that will be more powerful, efficient, stable and easily maintained than those already in place across Europe.

David Willets, the universities and science minister, said: “The £10 million contract will provide the HiLASE project with the very best of British technology. It is further proof that investment in science is vital to growth and international collaboration.

“It is also recognition of the UK’s world-class research base, with particular strengths in laser science at the leading edge Rutherford Appleton Laboratory.”

The scientists at the CLF’s Centre for Advanced Laser Technology and Applications have developed a higher-energy “diode pumped solid state” laser system, which helped them to win the contract.

John Collier, director of the CLF, said:  “Our success in winning this contract stems directly from our breakthrough in combining high energy and high repetition rates in each [laser] pulse. This came about thanks to years of ground-breaking research at RAL and reinforces the UK as a world leader in laser physics.”

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