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Lab Spotlight: LLNL - National Ignition Facility

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Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s (LLNL) National Ignition Facility (NIF) is the largest and most energetic laser facility ever built, with the world’s most precise and reproducible laser and the largest optical instrument. Its giant laser has nearly 40,000 optics that precisely guide, reflect, amplify, and focus 192 laser beams onto a fusion target about the size of a pencil eraser. NIF’s capabilities meet a critical requirement for exploring one of physics’ grand challenges—igniting hydrogen fusion fuel in the laboratory and producing more energy than the amount delivered to the target. NIF’s unique experimental platform can create the extreme states of matter that exist in the centers of planets, stars, and other celestial objects; and experiments at NIF are laying the groundwork to provide the world with abundant and sustainable clean fusion energy. Earlier this year, LLNL announced the milestone of achieving fuel gains greater than 1 for the first time ever on any facility.

Here, an LLNL technician tests components of the Advanced Radiography Capability (ARC), a new petawatt-class short-pulse laser being developed at NIF to produce x-ray "movies" of target implosions. ARC will use up to four of NIF’s 192 beamlines to record the physics of target implosions at a rate of 50 billion frames per second. This capability will enable researchers to diagnose fuel compression during a critical phase of inertial confinement fusion shots. It will also enable a new suite of experiments in frontier science and high-energy-density stewardship science.

Photo by Jason Laurea, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

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