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Product Code: ILSC2007_503

Project ORION - Laser Safety by Design
Authors:
Graham White, AWE; READING Great Britain
S. Melton, AWE; Reading Great Britain
Tom Bett, AWE; Reading Great Britain
Presented at ILSC 2007

Project ORION currently underway at AWE is Building the largest laser system in the UK. This is a MOPA configuration Nd doped glass laser system for high energy density physics research. The laser comprises 10 beams of 30cm aperture delivering 5kJ in 1ns at 351nm to target and 2 beams of 60cm aperture utilising CPA to deliver IPW each at 100nm in 0.5ps pulses. The facility comprises several designated compartments in a building around 100m long and 60m width. The major hazards are generated through firing the laser to target. A comprehensive set of engineering controls are designed to mitigate the risk from the laser target interaction, principally, high energy x-rays, activated material from energetic particles and EMP, and, from the high voltage capacitor banks that power the flashlamps. No personnel are allowed in designated areas during a shot firing and a comprehensive set of keys and access controls driven from a logic controller are employed with management controls. There is also a significant laser beam hazard during set-up operations e.g. target alignment and laser oscillator/pre-amplifier tuning. Currently PPE is envisaged as a major protection in controlled laser areas manned only by suitably qualified and experienced staff but use of further engineering controls are under investigation. These will be described.

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