On the 19th July 2017, the Central Laser Facility (CLF) hosted a special industry focus day at the STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory with the intention of promoting the use of technology developed by the CLF and partners to solve critical - and currently intractable - challenges faced by the industrial sector.
The well-attended event brought together 30 representatives from a wide variety of companies including Rolls Royce, TWI, Stirling Dynamics and The Manufacturing Technology Centre, to learn about the capabilities of the CLF, highlight industry requirements and discuss solutions to major industrial and societal challenges through a selection of activities which included presentations, case studies, a round-table workshop and a tour of the facility.
For many years, the Central Laser Facility - one of the world's leading laser facilities - has been using high power lasers, in collaboration with its academic and industrial partners, to study and develop laser driven sources of radiation. These sources consist of high energy beams of x-rays, electrons, neutrons, ions and even exotic particles such as muons and positrons, that can be applied in processes requiring a versatile point source of probing beams with high spatial and temporal resolution. The Industry Day in July, henceforth, provided the perfect opportunity to explain why these applications are important, how high-power lasers are adding value and to describe what the CLF and its partners are doing to maximise the benefits offered by this technology.
In many industries, for example, there is a need to inspect components in extreme detail without damaging the sample in question. This process, otherwise known as Non-Destructive Evaluation, belongs to a market that is estimated to be worth more than $13 billion worldwide. By exploiting the fact that beams of particles and x-rays are generated when a laser strikes a target, scientists at the CLF have used laser driven x-rays to make 2D and 3D images of aerospace and medical samples.
What makes lasers so valuable is that not only can data be acquired that is of a very high resolution in both space and time but conveniently one laser driven source can be configured in different modes for an abundance of applications, ranging from landmine detection to the remote inspection of nuclear waste. As a result, the CLF takes great pride in its innovative collaborations with Industry, the NHS, MoD and the Home Office, to name just a few.
With technology developed by the CLF's Centre for Advanced Technology and Applications (CALTA) taking centre stage, such as the world-leading DiPOLE laser platform, other key topics discussed focused on the value of using lasers for damage and radiation hardness testing, surface engineering and materials processing, as well as for radiobiology and radioisotope generation. In line with the theme of the day, emphasis was placed on how lasers can increase operational efficiency and reliability whilst lowering costs, thus providing significant economic and industrial advantages.
By connecting world-leading research with business, this event has helped set an example for the future, namely that strong relations between academia and industry increase the feasibility of tackling some of the greatest challenges of the twenty-first century.
In a similar vein, the organisers are hopeful that this innovative event will pave the way for similar events based at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus, such as at the ISIS Pulsed Neutron and Muon Source and Diamond Light Source, to be organised in the future.
For further information about the day, please contact Ric Allott (firstname.lastname@example.org)
To learn more about the cutting-edge research undertaken at the CLF and future events taking place within the department, please visit CLF News