Decommissioning of Vulcan ahead of Vulcan 20-20
20 Mar 2024
- Megan Pritchard



The next stage of the Vulcan 20-20 project has begun, with the facility currently being dismantled ahead of the construction phase.

TAP (September 2023).

​The exciting Vulcan 20-20 project is set to complete in the next six years, providing the facility with an incredible 20 Petawatts of power. This capability, at 20 times brighter than its predecessor, will unlock a new age of scientific development and plasma physics research in the UK​.


​The Vulcan Celebration Event, held in TAP in October 2023. 

The current Vulcan laser has now been decommissioned to prepare for the construction of the new facility. This has included removing all the existing components from three Laser Areas, two control rooms, and two Target Areas! The upgrade will see a new experimental area to replace Target Area West, with the existing building extended to both the south and west. Target Area Petawatt will have an extended footprint southwards but will replace all equipment inside. 

TAP Interaction Chamber 1.jpgTAP Interaction Chamber 2.pngPicture23.png
The TAP interaction chamber being dismantled, cut, and removed.

In Target Area Petawatt, the interaction and compression chambers have now been disposed of, and the internal shielding and experimental systems have been removed. The room is now largely emptied, completed in the short span of only a few months. During this period we also held our Vulcan Celebration event in TAP!

VOPPEL Chamber.pngTAP Compression Chamber.pngTAP Optical Components.png

The VOPPEL chamber (left), TAP compressor chamber (middle) and TAP optical components (right). 

The VOPPEL (Vulcan OPcpa PEtawatt Laser) compressor chamber installed around 2 years ago has been transferred to an off-site storage location as the VOPPEL beamline will be incorporated into Vulcan 20-20 as part of the many beamlines planned for the facility.


​The VOPPEL chamber being moved.

The south wall of TAP was also partially deconstructed to extract the chambers and pave way for the extensions. This will allow for two large experimental areas and a new compressor area between them to maintain the 20PW pulses.

South Facing Wall 2.jpgSouth Facing Wall 1.png

The south facing wall.

​TAP (September 2023)


​TAP (February 2024)​

TAP 2024 1.jpg20240116_084828.jpg

In TAW, the interaction and compression chambers have been removed, with the compressor heading to an off-site storage location as we finalise decisions on whether to re-use the chamber for the 100TW beamline on the upgrade. Other institutions were contacted by the CLF to gauge interest in the remaining Vulcan equipment - the original ring section of the interaction chamber has been donated to Magdrive, with other components, laser equipment, and cameras being donated to various universities. 26 items in total have been given to other groups and facilities.

TAW Interaction Chamber 1.pngTAW Interaction Chamber 2.png

The TAW interaction chamber.

TAW Ring Chamber.pngTAW Compression Chamber.jpg

The original TAW ring chamber and compression chamber. 


The TAW compression chamber being prepared to lift off the support frame (left) and being unloaded at Steventon storage unit (right).​​

The optical and beam transport components have been taken out of TAW, as well as their support frames ready for the original building to be knocked down in preparation for the new experimental area. Both TAP and TAW will have new interaction chambers which are being conceptually developed as part of the community consultation.

Beam Transport 1.pngOptical Components 1.pngOptical Components 2.png

The TAW beam transport and optical components.

​TAW (February 2024)​


Laser Areas 3 and 4 have been completely cleared with the large disk amplifiers having been removed to storage along with all of the beam transport components and diagnostic systems . Some key equipment will now be refurbished ready to be reused in the new facility.

The VOPPEL front end from Laser Area 5 (originally Target Area East) has now been transferred to a different building to allow for further development of the system. 

Laser Area 3.pngLaser Area 4.pngLaser Area 5.jpg

Laser Areas 3, 4, and 5, emptied.

The current nitrogen tank that provides for the pneumatic mirror slide and shutter systems is also set to be removed, with a new nitrogen generation replacement system being installed to support both the existing Gemini facility as well as the Vulcan 20-20 upgrade.  

Many of the large-scale mechanical components are now being stored off-site, while smaller equipment can be kept in the CLF labs and cleanrooms for maintenance.

Read more about the Vulcan 20-20 upgrades here! CLF Vulcan 20-20 Upgrade (

Contact: Pritchard, Megan (STFC,RAL,CLF)