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Funding Awarded To U of R Laser Lab

Experimental work happening at the University of Rochester could one day lead to less dependence on foreign oil.
Experimental work happening at the University of Rochester could one day lead to less dependence on foreign oil.

The work at the U of R Laboratory for Laser Energetics has been underway since the 1970s. It is work that relies on millions of dollars in federal funding, and it will receive $5 million more than last year. It is what happens inside the equipment that is so critical to the future of science and our nation's energy future.

"The ultimate quest of this work is to create a safe form of fusion energy which would provide safe, secure, low-carbon footprint energy for mankind," lab director Dr. Bob McCrory said. 

The work involves sending multiple laser beams to a very small target inside a chamber. Those lasers implode the target and create matter.

"You can create the same conditions as we get with the center of a star; or a giant planet or center of a nuclear weapon," Dr. McCrory said. 

The data is used by scientists worldwide. 

"On a day by day basis, they like the results we are getting to understand matter at extremes and ultimately when we get ignition; along with national ignition facility in Livermore. There is a path to fusion energy as well," he said. 

Three hundred scientists work at the lab, and that comes with a cost. This year, the lab is expected to receive $64 million from the federal government; a $5 million boost from last year. 

"We are going to be able to avoid layoffs and continue the work we have proposed for the department of energy," he said. 

The funding is dependent on Congress. The lab's director expects it to go through and hopes it does for the nation's energy future. In 2010, President Obama pledged to continue to work for funds to help strengthen the laser lab and its cutting-edge work. 
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