CORNING, N.Y., Nov. 2 -- Corning Inc. is supplying HPFS(r) fused silica optical blanks to the National Ignition Facility (NIF) Project at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), part of the Department of Energy's Stockpile Stewardship and Management Program, which oversees the US nuclear stockpile. NIF uses a 192-beam laser to create conditions of extreme temperatures and pressures for research purposes.
NIF requires high-quality fused silica optics for its laser system in order to prevent damage to lenses and windows due to the high energy passing through. Corning is supplying eight different HPFS(r) fused silica optical elements to LLNL for use in the NIF laser system. These optics are of varying thickness, depending on their location within the laser. The finished optics, called beam transport optics, will have three major functions once they are installed -- focusing laser light, spreading the intensity of the beam and final focusing.
Corning provided the LLNL with optical blanks for previous high-energy lasers such as Nova, a 10-beam high-energy laser, and the NIF prototype system called Beamlet. Now 55 percent complete, the NIF project's technical goal is to achieve fusion ignition as an alternative energy source and to conduct nuclear weapons research.