The Texas Petawatt Laser Facility Dedicated by Kay Bailey Hutchison
The design is based on the Lawrence Livermore National Labs version. The lab can generate 190 joules compressing this energy to a pulse duration of less than 170 femtoseconds (a femtosecond is one quadrillionth of a second).
The goal of the project is to generate energy using chirped pulse amplification. Chirped pulse amplification originally came from the area of radar but has been extended into the field of optics for laser applications. The chirped pulse amplification method takes a short, low-energy laser pulse, stretches it in time by a factor of about 10,000, and amplifies it. It then compresses the final, amplified pulse back down to a duration near that of the initial laser pulse, according to this source. By generating such high energy the lab seeks to study the elements of matter in extreme conditions such as those found in supernovas and brown dwarfs.
In dedicating the Petawatt Laser one speaker used a quote from Edwin Hubble,
"Equipped with his five senses, man explores the universe around him and calls the adventure Science."
You can see a video of the internal lab at this YouTube site.