ACADEMICS from Oxford University have been invited to take part in experiments involving a cutting-edge laser at AWE.

The experiments which are currently underway at the Atomic Weapons Establishment, hope to increase understanding of, among other things, conditions found at the core of planets including Jupiter and Saturn.

The Orion laser facility, based at Aldermaston, is one of the largest science projects in the UK and provides a platform for AWE’s plasma physics experiments, enabling scientists to work at pressures and densities found nowhere else on Earth.

Its main purpose is to support the nuclear deterrent programme, but 15 per cent of its system time is dedicated to collaborative academic research.

AWE’s chief scientist Andy Randewich said: “I am extremely proud of the work AWE does in collaboration with UK academics. As well as being an extremely cost-effective way to conduct cutting-edge research of national importance, it provides strong mutual benefit.”

AWE has strategic alliances with five universities – Cambridge, Imperial College London, Bristol, Heriot-Watt and Cranfield – and established links with around 50 other universities.