The Central Laser Facility (CLF) at the STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory is one of the world’s leading laser facilities providing scientists from the UK and Europe with an unparalleled range of state-of-the-art laser technology.

The CLF’s wide ranging applications include experiments in physics, chemistry and biology, accelerating subatomic particles to high energies, probing chemical reactions on the shortest timescales and studying biogeochemical and biophysical process critical to life.

From advanced, compact, tuneable lasers which can pinpoint individual particles to high power laser installations that recreate the conditions inside stars, a vigorous development programme ensures the facilities maintain their international competitiveness.

The CLF provides a broad spectrum of laser facilities, from high intensity laser systems to ultra-fast sources and laser microscopy techniques. The CLF has 5 laser facilities: Vulcan; Astra Gemini; Artemis; Ultra; and Octopus. Vulcan is a petawatt laser system, used for experiments researching fusion energy, electron and ion acceleration, laboratory astrophysics and plasma physics.

Astra Gemini is a high power, ultra-short pulse laser system. Experiments on Gemini produce bright, coherent x-ray sources, or energetic beams of electrons and protons. Artemis is the CLF's facility for ultrafast XUV science. Artemis couples few optical cycle and widely tuneable laser sources with coherent ultrafast XUV pulses from 10-100 nm. Experiments on Artemis investigate ultra-fast electron dynamics in condensed matter and gas-phase molecules. Ultra combines laser, detector and sample manipulation technology to probe molecular dynamics on the femtosecond to microsecond timescales.

The Octopus imaging cluster offers a range of imaging techniques including multidimensional single molecule microscopy, confocal microscopy and optical profilometry.