NIF delivers 500 terawatts to fusion target

Livermore, CA--On July 5, the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's National Ignition Facility (NIF) achieved a historic record-breaking laser shot. The NIF laser system of 192 beams delivered more than 500 trillion watts (terawatts or TW) of peak power and 1.85 megajoules (MJ) of ultraviolet laser light to its target. 500 TW is 1,000 times more power than the United States uses at any instant in time, and 1.85 MJ of energy is about 100 times what any other laser regularly produces today.

Combining extreme levels of energy and peak power on a target in the NIF is a critical requirement for achieving one of physics' grand challenges--igniting hydrogen fusion fuel in the laboratory and producing more energy than that supplied to the target. In the historic test, NIF's 192 lasers fired within a few trillionths of a second of each other onto a 2 mm diameter target. The total energy matched the amount requested by shot managers to within better than 1%. In addition, the beam-to-beam uniformity was within 1%, making NIF not only the highest energy laser of its kind but the most precise and reproducible, according to LLNL. "NIF is becoming everything scientists planned when it was conceived over two decades ago," NIF director Edward Moses said. "It is fully operational, and scientists are taking important steps toward achieving ignition and providing experimental access to user communities for national security, basic science and the quest for clean fusion energy."

The user community agrees. "The 500 TW shot is an extraordinary accomplishment by the NIF Team, creating unprecedented conditions in the laboratory that hitherto only existed deep in stellar interiors," said Dr. Richard Petrasso, senior research scientist and division head of high energy density physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "For scientists across the nation and the world who, like ourselves, are actively pursuing fundamental science under extreme conditions and the goal of laboratory fusion ignition, this is a remarkable and exciting achievement."

NIF is operating routinely at unprecedented performance levels. The July 5 shot was the third experiment in which total energy exceeded 1.8 MJ on the target. On July 3 scientists achieved the highest energy laser shot ever fired, with more than 1.89 MJ delivered to the target at a peak power of 423 TW. A shot on March 15 set the stage for the July 5 experiment by delivering 1.8 MJ for the first time with a peak power of 411 TW.

Original concerns about achieving these levels of extreme laser performance on NIF centered in part on the quality of optics existing in the late 1990s that could not withstand this intense laser light. Lawrence Livermore researchers worked closely with their industrial partners to improve manufacturing methods and drastically reduce the number of defects. Livermore scientists also developed in-house procedures to remove and mitigate small amounts of damage resulting from repeated laser firings.

NIF is influencing the design of new giant laser facilities being built or planned in the United Kingdom, France, Russia, Japan and China.

Located at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, NIF is funded by the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), a semi-autonomous agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for enhancing national security through the application of nuclear science to the nation's national security enterprise.


NIF is the latest, and arguably the most sophisticated, addition to a number of critical stockpile stewardship facilities. It is the only facility with the potential to duplicate the actual phenomena that occur in the heart of a modern nuclear device--a goal that is critical to sustaining confidence that a return to underground nuclear testing remains unnecessary. NIF also is providing unique experimental opportunities for scientists to enhance our understanding of the universe by creating the same extreme states of matter that exist in the centers of planets, stars and other celestial objects. Additionally, experiments at NIF are laying the groundwork to revolutionize energy production with fusion energy to provide abundant and sustainable clean energy.

SOURCE: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory; www.llnl.gov/news/newsreleases/2012/Jul/NR-12-07-01.html

IMAGE: A view of a cryogenically cooled NIF target as "seen" by the laser through the hohlraum's laser entrance hole. In ignition experiments, the hydrogen in the fuel capsule must be compressed to about 100 times the density of lead. (Courtesy Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory)



A view of a cryogenically cooled NIF target as "seen" by the laser through the hohlraum's laser entrance hole. In ignition experiments, the hydrogen in the fuel capsule must be compressed to about 100 times the density of lead

Most Popular Articles

50 YEARS OF GAS LASERS


Durable survivors evolve new forms

Webcasts

Laser Measurements Critical to Successful Additive Manufacturing Processes

Maximizing the stability of the variables going into any manufacturing process is what ensures ts consistency and high quality. Specifically, when a laser is...

Ray Optics Simulations with COMSOL Multiphysics

The Ray Optics Module can be used to simulate electromagnetic wave propagation when the wavelength is much smaller than the smallest geometric entity in the ...

Multichannel Spectroscopy: Technology and Applications

This webcast, sponsored by Hamamatsu, highlights some of the photonic technology used in spectroscopy, and the resulting applications.

Handheld Spectrometers

Spectroscopy is a powerful and versatile tool that traditionally often required a large and bulky instrument. The combination of compact optics and modern pa...
White Papers

Wavelength stabilized multi-kW diode laser systems

Wavelength stabilization of high-power diode laser systems is an important means to increase the ...

Narrow-line fiber-coupled modules for DPAL pumping

A new series of fiber coupled diode laser modules optimized for DPAL pumping is presented, featur...

Accurate LED Source Modeling Using TracePro

Modern optical modeling programs allow product design engineers to create, analyze, and optimize ...
Technical Digests

ADHESIVES, SEALANTS, AND COATINGS: Solutions for optical technologies

A vast array of optical systems of various types and degrees of complexity require the use of adh...

WAVELENGTH-SWEPT LASERS: Dispersion-tuned fiber laser sweeps over a 140 nm range for OCT

By eliminating the use of mechanical tunable filters and instead tuning by intensity-modulation i...

Keeping pace with developments in photonic materials research

For demanding or custom spectroscopy solutions, care must be taken in selecting and integrating a...

HIGH-POWER FIBER LASERS: Working in the kilowatt regime

High-power materials-processing fiber lasers are available in an increasing variety of forms, as ...

Click here to have your products listed in the Laser Focus World Buyers Guide.
Social Activity
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
Copyright © 2007-2014. PennWell Corporation, Tulsa, OK. All Rights Reserved.PRIVACY POLICY | TERMS AND CONDITIONS