Congressman Kanjorski Announces $2.8 Million Funding for SCHOTT/University of Scranton Project
Funding Helps to Keep Jobs in Northeastern Pennsylvania By Investing in Innovative Technologies
U.S. Rep. Paul E. Kanjorski announced $2.8 million in federal funding that enables a global manufacturer from northeast Pennsylvania and The University of Scranton to further the research and development needed to create one of the world’s most powerful lasers—an Exawatt laser (one exawatt is a billion billion watts). The funding provides cutting-edge research opportunities for Scranton students and faculty and keeps – and possibly grows – jobs in northeast Pennsylvania. The announcement was made at an Aug. 4 news conference at SCHOTT’s Duryea facility.
SCHOTT, a multi-national corporation that develops and manufactures specialty glass, has invited scientists at The University of Scranton to help further advance the research for development of the Exawatt laser. The federal funding was secured in the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2010, which was enacted on Dec. 19, 2009.
“SCHOTT has remained at the forefront of its industry working to create technology that will continue to move our country forward,” said Congressman Kanjorski. “(The) announcement for SCHOTT and The University of Scranton helps continue that goal while investing in innovative technologies, and strengthening America’s manufacturing industry, particularly in northeastern Pennsylvania. It will help to propel northeastern Pennsylvania forward by keeping and building jobs here in our communities, rather than sending them abroad. I applaud SCHOTT and The University of Scranton for their hard work on this new, groundbreaking laser, and for maintaining a facility that continues to employ hundreds of northeastern Pennsylvanians.”
“The University of Scranton is grateful to Congressman Kanjorski for his efforts to help secure this needed funding,” said Paul Fahey, Ph.D., professor of physics at The University of Scranton and the University’s head for the Exawatt laser project. “SCHOTT and The University of Scranton have enjoyed exchanges of ideas and people for many years, as several of SCHOTT’s scientists graduated from Scranton. Additionally, the project provides a unique, collaborative experience with SCHOTT for our scientists and our students, enabling them to learn while contributing to an undertaking that has the potential to impact and change many industries and elementary particle physics experimentation.”
“This project is important to physics because of the extremely high electric fields in a focused exawatt laser pulse. Fundamental physics and astrophysics can be explored—and explored relatively inexpensively.”
Dr. Fahey explained that to make the Exawatt laser, SCHOTT, with the University’s assistance, will develop laser glasses that make possible ultrashort high energy pulses—on the order of a tenth of a millionth of a millionth of a second.
“Ultrashort pulse technology is important also in low power lasers that can be used to explore fundamental processes in chemistry, biochemistry, materials science and physics,” said Dr. Fahey.
The powerful Exawatt laser has the capability to impact many fields. With an exawatt laser it is possible to create a proton beam that can be used destroy tumors. Presently proton beams for tumor eradication require large particle accelerators. With high power laser technology, a tabletop apparatus should be possible. This would make proton beam treatment much more widely available. Also, the extreme power of this laser can be use to make a neutron source that is useful for improved explosives and weapons detection. Lastly, the power of this laser, previously unavailable to physicists, will enable them to conduct science and research into the most basic and fundamental elements of matter that have, until now, not been possible on this scale.
According to Dr. Fahey, scientists at The University of Scranton have skills and experience that complement the skills and experience of the SCHOTT scientists. The University also has some laboratory facilities that will be useful to SCHOTT—just as SCHOTT has facilities that are useful to the University.
Additionally, some undergraduates at Scranton who are studying physics or chemistry will participate in the project, providing them with a hands-on learning experience. This project creates opportunities for our faculty to interact with SCHOTT and the University of Texas scientists and the opportunity to share laboratory facilities among the partners.
SCHOTT creates the glass that is used and needed in the Exawatt laser, as well as other lasers.
“The enabling materials for ultra high power lasers are being developed by SCHOTT and The University of Scranton in northeast Pennsylvania today thanks to the vision and support of Congressman Kanjorski,” said Dr. Gerald Fine, president and CEO of SCHOTT North America, Inc. “SCHOTT is gratified that Congressman Kanjorski continues to fight for manufacturing and the R&D that will serve to sustain the employment base in northeast Pennsylvania in the years to come. This innovation seed funding that he obtained for laser materials development will enable SCHOTT’s regional R&D center and SCHOTT’s Duryea flagship glass production facility to remain competitive as the global leader of advanced laser glass development.”
According to Dr. Fine, this funding is making it possible for SCHOTT to stay at the forefront of its industry, while also keeping jobs in northeastern Pennsylvania and making it possible to create more manufacturing jobs in the future.
SCHOTT currently has 246 employees. It is also working to organize an apprenticeship program to help train people living in northeastern Pennsylvania for jobs at its facility as some of the workforce at SCHOTT retires.