The U.S. is losing ground in a second laser revolution of highly intense, ultrafast lasers that have broad applications in manufacturing, medicine, and national security, says a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.  Currently, 80 percent to 90 percent of the high-intensity laser systems are overseas, and all of the highest power research lasers currently in construction or already built are overseas as well.  The report makes five recommendations that would improve the nation’s position in the field, including for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to create a broad network to support science, applications, and technology of these lasers, as well as for DOE to plan for at least one large-scale, open-access high-intensity laser facility that leverages other major science infrastructures in the DOE complex.

NSF, which has supported national centers of excellence, such as the Center for Ultrafast Optical Science at the University of Michigan (1991-2002),52 appears to no longer be directly involved in the development of high-powered or high-intensity lasers, except for some spin-off applications such as the new NSF STROBE Science and Technology Center at University of Colorado.