LLNL’s Annie Kritcher named to TIME100 list of the 100 most influential people in the world

Annie Kritcher TIME 100 (Download Image)

LLNL design physicist Annie Kritcher is named to TIME100, a list of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2022. She is honored for her role as principal designer on the December 2022 fusion ignition experiment at the National Ignition Facility. Photo by Blaise Douros/LLNL.

Time has named Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) design physicist Andrea “Annie” Kritcher to its annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world. The TIME100, now in its 20th year, recognizes the “impact, innovation and achievement of the world’s most influential individuals.” 

Kritcher is recognized for her role as the principal designer for the December 2022 National Ignition Facility (NIF) experiment that produced fusion ignition in a laboratory for the first time. The scientific breakthrough paves the way for advancements in national security and the future of inertial fusion energy.

Leading the integrated modeling team within LLNL’s Inertial Confinement Fusion (ICF) program, Kritcher oversees the integrated modeling of indirect-drive fusion designs fielded at NIF. The experimental design process, she said, has involved many years of building physics understanding, developing models using experimental data and making design improvements to fusion experiments.

“Reaching ignition was truly a large effort carried through many decades,” Kritcher said. “I am extremely honored to be representing the Laboratory and the many people who have worked on this grand scientific challenge to make this a reality, some of whom were working on this before I was born.”

Kritcher recognizes the significant efforts of many collaborators, including those who have led laser development, target fabrication, diagnostics, design improvements, engineering developments and optimizations, as well as those who maintain NIF.

“I am so proud of what we have achieved together as a team – each contribution was needed to enable reaching this major milestone,” she said.

The December ignition experiment was an essential first demonstration of fusion target energy gain in a controlled laboratory setting, Kritcher said, which proved that there is nothing fundamentally limiting harnessing fusion as a clean limitless energy source. 

“Humanity is driven and motivated by impossible problems, such as creating a miniature star in the laboratory and harnessing the power of nuclear fusion, that once we start to crack, we can collectively achieve amazing things and make life better for all,” Kritcher said. “This result is a monumental step for potential limitless clean energy and is also key capability in supporting our national security. This recognition proves that the world is watching and agrees on our mission.”

Kritcher started at LLNL as a summer intern in 2004, then competed her thesis work through the Lab until 2009. She became a Lawrence postdoc in 2009 and she transitioned to a member of the technical staff in 2012.

In 2022, she was selected as fellow of the American Physical Society for her “leadership in integrated hohlraum design physics leading to the creation of the first laboratory burning and igniting fusion plasma.”

The full list of 2023 TIME100 honorees and related tributes will appear in the April 24 issue of TIME, available on newsstands April 14 and online now.

Kritcher will be honored at the TIME100 Summit and Gala on April 26 at the Lincoln Center in New York City.