NIF and Jupiter Laser Facility user groups meet to discuss recent experiments, new capabilities

March 20, 2019

More than 180 researchers, representing 31 institutions across six countries, attended the 2019 NIF/JLF User Group. Credit: Mark Meamber /LLNL (Download Image)

NIF and Jupiter Laser Facility user groups meet to discuss recent experiments, new capabilities

The annual National Ignition Facility (NIF) and Jupiter Laser Facility (JLF) User Group meeting brought together more than 180 researchers to learn about the capabilities, recent experiments and new experimental platforms of both Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) facilities. The attendees included 61 students and represented 31 institutions across six countries.

In his welcome, NIF&PS Principal Associate Director Jeff Wisoff described a “great year on NIF” since the last user group meeting. “We had a record number of discovery science publications,” he said. “We’ve made critical contributions to the stockpile stewardship program, we achieved our highest energy level ever of 2.15 megajoules (on NIF) and we are expanding our experimental capabilities.”

The Department of Energy’s perspective was presented by Njema Frazier, representing the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Program Office, and Kramer Akli of the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science. Frazier discussed the critical role of NIF, JLF and similar facilities in stockpile stewardship.

MIT student RasPberry Simpson explains her research to Professor Michel Koenig of France’s Ecole Polytechnique during the poster session.

“By 2025, there will be no personnel left with actual underground nuclear test experience,” she said. “We need to sustain the deterrent through stockpile stewardship, which requires cutting-edge work from you all and others at your sister facilities like Sandia’s Z machine and the University of Rochester’s Omega laser.”

“Training students in these key areas is not something we want to leave to chance,” Frazier added. “That is why we support universities, students and other efforts along this line.” NNSA provided support for two undergraduate students, 27 graduate students and five postdocs to attend the meeting.

NIF Director Mark Herrmann shared the accomplishments, challenges and new capabilities of the past year. NIF User Office Director Kevin Fournier discussed “what’s new” for NIF users.

Glenn Fox, principal associate director of Physical and Life Sciences at LLNL, thanked the user community for their role in bringing about the refurbishment of the JLF, which is about 1.5 years into what is expected to be a three- to four-year project.

Farhat Beg, chair of the NIF User Group (center) and Luke Fletcher, chair of the JLF User Group (right), present Princeton graduate student Jackson Matteucci with his first-place award for the best poster presentation by a graduate student.

“We’d like to thank Kramer Akli and DOE’s Fusion Energy Sciences for funding for an additional beam line,” he said. “Feedback from the user community has helped us to better articulate the needs both for our sponsor and our Laboratory, and ultimately, to sucessfully obtain the funding.”

In addition to talks on current discovery science, inertial confinement fusion and high-energy density science experiments on NIF and JLF, a highlight of this year’s meeting was four talks by academic luminaries in fields related to NIF and JLF experiments:

  • Jonathan Fortney, UC Santa Cruz: “Planetary interiors, inside and outside the solar system: the role of high-pressure data”;
  • Alex Robinson, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory: “Fast electrons and multi-MeV protons in ultra-intense laser solid interactions: a theoretical perspective”;
  • Lars Stixrude, University of California Los Angeles: “Iron in the interior of giant planets”;
  • Sasha Velikovich, Naval Research Laboratory: “What everyone should know about the Rayleigh-Taylor instability and its mitigation”
The timing of the meeting proved fortuitous as it coincided with Nobel Laureate Donna Strickland’s visit to LLNL. After a full day of talks, tours and meetings, she attended the meeting’s banquet, held on the second night of the event.


At the end of the event, Farhat Beg of the University of California, San Diego, chair of the NIF User Group, and Luke Fletcher of Stanford University, chair of the JLF User Group, presented awards for the best posters. The first-place postdoc scholar was Paulo Alves of SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory; first-place graduate scholar was Jackson Matteucci of Princeton University; and second-place graduate scholar was Bastian Witte of University of Rostock.

Nobel Laureate Donna Strickland (at podium), shown with some of the women attendees, visited the NIF & JLF User Group Meeting banquet.

- Patricia Koning