National Ignition Facility Sets New Laser Energy Record

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Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s (LLNL) National Ignition Facility (NIF) laser system has set a new record, firing 2.15 MJ of energy to its target chamber. This is a 15 percent improvement over NIF’s design specification of 1.8 MJ, and more than 10 percent higher than the previous 1.9-MJ energy record set in March 2012.

This demonstration shot successfully meets a National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Level 2 milestone for 2018. NIF, the world’s largest and most energetic laser, is funded by NNSA to serve as a critical research facility supporting the U.S. science-based Stockpile Stewardship Program.

The experiment demonstrated the highest energy NIF can safely deliver with its current optics and laser configuration. Increasing NIF’s energy limit will expand the parameter space for stewardship experiments and provide a significant boost to the pursuit of ignition — a key element of NNSA’s Stockpile Stewardship Program.

The NIF laser uses tens of thousands of large precision optical components, including lenses, laser glass slabs, mirrors, and frequency conversion crystals to amplify and guide 192 laser beams to a small target in the 10-m target chamber.

Based on this successful demonstration, NIF is working with LLNL’s ignition program to execute the first ignition experiments that utilize this enhanced energy capability later this summer.

Published: July 2018
BusinessResearch & TechnologyLawrence Livermore National LaboratoryLLNLNational Ignition FacilityNIFLasersOpticsNational Nuclear Security AdministrationNNSAlight speed

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