Celebrating the Milestone of Ignition

On Dec. 5, 2022, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory made history, demonstrating fusion ignition for the first time in a laboratory setting — an achievement six decades in the making. Fusion ignition will provide unprecedented capability to support the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Stockpile Stewardship Program and invaluable insights into the prospects of clean fusion energy.

“The pursuit of fusion ignition in the laboratory is one of the most significant scientific challenges ever tackled by humanity. Achieving it is a triumph of science, engineering, and most of all, people.”
– Kim Budil

Inside Our Fusion Breakthrough: An Ongoing Series

A high-resolution 3D HYDRA capsule simulation of a June 2017 NIF shot. The spherical contour surface shows the ablation front colored by ion temperature. The cutaway view shows density on the right where the capsule shell contains the hot spot. The jet from the fill tube is visible near the equator. Ion temperature is shown on the left.

Harkening back to the genesis of LLNL’s inertial confinement fusion (ICF) program, codes have played an essential role in simulating the complex physical processes that take place in an ICF target and the facets of each experiment that must be nearly perfect.

A NIF Target Area Operator services the Dante diagnostic

Diagnostics — specialized, state-of-the-art measuring instruments — played an essential role in LLNL's Dec. 5, 2022, fusion ignition milestone. The Target Area Science and Engineering team has developed a comprehensive suite of 140 optical, X-ray and nuclear diagnostics that help measure the performance of every NIF shot.


The intricate, delicate targets used in Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL)’s National Ignition Facility (NIF) experiments are marvels of design, engineering and precise manufacturing. For NIF to consistently match and ultimately exceed December’s milestone ignition shot, an even higher level of perfection — or even a different capsule material — may be needed.

target chambers

Having blazed the path to fusion ignition at the National Ignition Facility (NIF), Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) researchers and their collaborators are now making plans for sustained, and even higher, nuclear yields to enable and expand applications for stockpile stewardship and basic science research.

macc NIF computing

For hundreds of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) scientists on the design, experimental, and modeling and simulation teams behind inertial confinement fusion (ICF) experiments at the National Ignition Facility (NIF), the results of the now-famous Dec. 5, 2022, ignition shot didn’t come as a complete surprise.

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