The French Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) has ordered preamplifier modules from Quantel (Les Ulis, France) to be shipped over a four-year period. Under terms of the multi-year contract, Quantel will manufacture and test the critical preamplifier modules used in the Laser Source Assembly. The Preamplifier Modules will increase the energy of the initial pulse from several billionths of a Joule to around 1 Joule. Further amplification takes place in the amplifier section and, after beam combination, the total energy delivered to the target is expected to be in excess of one million Joules.
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According to the CEA's website, "The Megajoule Laser Facility (LMJ) is a key component of CEA's Simulation Program. Its purpose is to study, at a very small scale, the behavior of materials under extreme conditions similar to those reached during the operation of nuclear weapons. The LMJ is designed to deliver, in a few billionths of a second, more than one million joules of light energy to targets measuring a few millimeters in size. Since France indefinitely halted nuclear testing in 1996, the Simulation Program has been the key element that allows CEA physicists to guarantee the reliability, safety and performance of the country's nuclear weapons."
"For over 10 years, Quantel has been working in close cooperation with teams from the French Atomic Energy Authority on the design, development and manufacture of this critical technology," said Alain de Salaberry, CEO of Quantel. "Despite exceptional technical challenges in design, manufacture and test, we're thrilled to deliver the demanding performance required for this unique application."
In order to bring the system to full functionality, a total of 90 preamplifier modules are required to equip the 22 laser beam lines. The CEA may place a second similar size order in order to fully equip all lines of the Megajoule Laser.