Vulcan is a Petawatt (1015 Watts) laser facility available to the UK and international research community. This unique facility delivers a focused beam – which for 1 picosecond (0.000000000001 seconds) is 10,000 times more powerful than the National Grid – to support a wide-ranging programme in fundamental physics and advanced applications.

Key facts

Vulcan is a versatile high power laser system that is composed of Nd:glass amplifier chain capable of delivering up to 2.6kJ of laser energy in long pulses (nanosecond duration) and up to 1 PW (1015 W) peak power in a short pulse (500 fs duration) at 1054nm.

It currently has 8 beam lines. Two of these beam lines can operate either short pulse mode or long pulse mode, the remaining 6 operate on a long pulse mode. The short-pulse and long-pulse systems operating jointly can be directed to 3 different target areas enabling sophisticated interaction and probing experiments.



The scientific areas that are explored using the Vulcan facility include:

  • Interaction of super-high intensity light with matter
  • Physics of fusion energy research
  • Photo-induced nuclear reactions
  • Electron and ion acceleration by light waves
  • Astrophysics in the laboratory
  • Exploration of the exotic world of plasma physics dominated by relativity


More information

Last updated: 02 September 2016


Science and Technology Facilities Council
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