Jeollanam-do, the best place for ‘super-power laser research facility’… speed up induction

Jeollanam-do has started to attract attention as a core technology that will determine national competitiveness in the era of super-gap. Two years ago, the provinces, including Gwangju City and Jeonbuk Province, united in Honam Province and worked tirelessly to attract radiation accelerators, but unfortunately failed to attract them.

However, the provincial government continues to strongly suggest that it is necessary to preemptively build a large-scale national research facility to nurture the next-generation core technology. The ultra-powerful laser research facility was selected after discussion and consultation with experts from various fields. Prior to the competition for candidate sites for the Ministry of Science and ICT, it was the first among local governments across the country to jump into the bid.

On the 28th, the provincial government held a ‘feasibility discussion on the establishment of a super-power laser research facility’ at the National Assembly Hall, speeding up the creation of an attraction boom. We look at the strategy, necessity, and future plans for attracting super-power laser research facilities in the province.

LASER originally refers to the physical phenomenon of ‘light amplification’. Ultra-intense laser refers to artificial light that emits strong intensity and high energy in an extremely short time. The first laser developed in 1960 can be found in many places around us. In the medical aspect, it is used for ophthalmic LASIK surgery and skin care treatment, and industrially, it is widely used for cutting, perforation, and welding.

Because of the importance of laser technology in basic science and industry, countries around the world are competing to build super-powerful laser facilities. In the case of the United States, it has already built a laser research facility ‘NIF’ worth 4.5 trillion won.

The scope of application of lasers to national and regional new industries, such as advanced medicine (cancer treatment), new material development, and national defense (new weapon), is limitless. There are about 2,000 laser-related companies in Korea, but the domestic laser-related technology is less than 50% of that of advanced countries. More than 90% of core parts such as laser diode (LD) chips and modules are imported. In order to overcome these fundamental problems, the state needs long-term investment in securing source technology for the manufacture of domestic core parts.

Jeollanam-do was the first among local governments in the country to plan and attract a super-powerful laser research facility in order to preoccupy the new laser industry.

In December of last year, Jeollanam-do formed a super-strength laser research facility promotion committee with 100 people for the first time in the country, and began attracting activities in earnest.

If the Ministry of Science and ICT selects Naju, Jeollanam-do as a project candidate at the end of this year or early next year, the world’s largest super-powerful laser, worth about 900 billion won, will be built on a site of 500,000 square meters near Bitgaram Innovation City in Naju for 10 years from 2024 to 2033 after a preliminary feasibility study. We plan to build a research facility.

The scale of the laser facility to be built by the province is the world’s largest 200 petawatt (PW, 200,000 trillion watts), which is 50 times more than the world’s largest 4PW laser, the largest in the world.

Jeollanam-do can foster new laser-related industries by linking with Korea Energy Engineering University (KENTECH), Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology (GIST, Basic Science)-Jeonnam Technopark (TP) Laser Center (industrial support)-Gwangju Mining Industrial Complex (entertainment). It is considered the best place to be. In particular, research on new energy industries using lasers is expected to become more active in connection with the Korea Energy Institute of Technology, which opened in March.

Jeollanam-do held a strategic meeting of experts in relation to attracting ultra-powerful laser research facilities to Jeonnam in July.
Jeollanam-do held a strategic meeting of experts in relation to attracting ultra-powerful laser research facilities to Jeollanam-do held at the Jeollanam-do Office Jeongcheolsil in July.

In terms of balanced national development, it is possible to resolve the imbalance in national research and development (R&D) focused on Chungcheong and Yeongnam by attracting a super-power laser research facility, a large national research facility, to Jeonnam. In July 2019, the National Balanced Development Committee promised to build a national large-scale landmark research facility in connection with the Korea Institute of Energy and Technology.

The Ministry of Science and ICT is currently conducting ‘research related to the development of super-strong laser technology and infrastructure construction’. At the latest, it is expected to start an open call for candidate sites for local governments across the country at the beginning of next year. The provincial government was the first among local governments in the country to prepare quickly, including the official launch of the ‘Super Powerful Laser Research Facility Promotion Committee’ consisting of 100 people from all walks of life in December last year.

The provincial government is preparing without any setbacks in the necessary administrative procedures, such as selecting a national candidate site and securing a site in preparation for the preliminary feasibility of the government next year. We plan to closely cooperate with the central government, the National Assembly, and expert groups. Although it unfortunately failed to attract a radiation accelerator in 2020, it has sufficient know-how in attracting activities at the time, and the possibility of attracting it is high as the stability of the site in Naju, a candidate site, has been sufficiently verified.

Kang Sang-gu, director of the Jeollanam-do Energy Industry Bureau, said, “Jeonnam is the best place to foster laser research and new industries in connection with Kentech, Gist, Jeonnam TP Laser Center, and Gwangju Mining Industrial Complex. We will take the lead in attracting global companies and creating jobs by nurturing high-tech industries such as , semiconductor, and national defense, and developing them into a world-class laser industry full cycle cluster.”

A poster for the National Assembly debate on the feasibility of building a super-strength laser research facility in Jeollanam-do.

Muan = Reporter Hansik Kim [email protected]

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