New way to study how elements mix in giant planets

June 19, 2020- 
There are giants among us — gas and ice giants, to be specific. They orbit the same star, but their environmental conditions and chemical makeup are wildly different from those of Earth. These enormous planets — Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune and Uranus — can be seen as natural laboratories for the physics of matter at extreme temperatures and pressures. Now, an international team including...

Deep learning-based surrogate models outperform simulators and could hasten scientific discoveries

June 17, 2020- 
Surrogate models supported by neural networks can perform as well, and in some ways better, than computationally expensive simulators and could lead to new insights in complicated physics problems such as inertial confinement fusion (ICF), Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) scientists reported. In a paper published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)...

Experiments expose how powerful magnetic fields are generated in the aftermath of supernovae

June 16, 2020- 
In a paper recently published by Physical Review Letters, a team of researchers including scientists from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) detail the first quantitative measurements of the magnetic field structure of plasma filamentation driven by the Weibel instability, using a novel optical Thompson scattering technique. These experiments study the processes responsible...

Shock waves created at NIF mimic astrophysical particle accelerators powered by exploding stars

June 11, 2020- 
When stars explode as supernovae, they produce shock waves so powerful they can blast streams of particles called cosmic rays into the universe at nearly the speed of light. Yet the exact mechanisms behind these phenomena remained mysteries for decades. Now, in experiments at the National Ignition Facility (NIF), an international team of scientists from institutions including Lawrence...

ARC results provide a ‘pleasant surprise’

March 23, 2020- 
When scientists saw the results from the first-ever Discovery Science experiment on the National Ignition Facility’s (NIF) Advanced Radiographic Capability (ARC) laser, they were genuinely surprised: The experiment produced much higher energy electrons than predicted based on the laser energy and power used on these shots. Those results, which were not typical of new experiments on new...

Nuclear diagnostics help pave way to ignition on NIF

March 12, 2020- 
At its peak, a NIF inertial confinement fusion (ICF) implosion lasts about 100 trillionths of a second. The imploded fuel is a hundred millionths of a meter in diameter and as much as eight times denser than lead. The center of the imploded capsule is a few times hotter than the core of the sun. Developing a clear understanding of exactly what’s happening in a NIF implosion under those...

Focusing target gives powerful boost to NIF’s ARC

Feb. 13, 2020- 
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) scientists have employed compound parabolic targets to achieve relativistic effects associated with significantly greater laser intensities. This innovation has substantially expanded the experimental capabilities of the National Ignition Facility’s (NIF) Advanced Radiographic Capability (ARC) laser. The targets, called compound parabolic...

Under pressure: Using NIF, researchers compress copper, creating the densest object on Earth

Jan. 9, 2020- 
If copper was found in the core of Saturn it would have the same crystalline structure as the copper pipes found in many homes, according to new research from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and Johns Hopkins University. In a paper published today by Physical Review Letters, the research team reveals that copper maintains its crystalline structure at pressures ranging from...

STAR array tests materials’ response to strong X-ray shocks

Jan. 6, 2020- 
At first glance it might be mistaken for a model of the Millennium Falcon of “Star Wars” fame. But it’s actually a new radiation-effects diagnostic that triples the number of material samples that can be exposed to X-rays in a single NIF shot. Designed by researchers from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and Sandia National Laboratories, the STAR (Sample Test and Recovery)...

NIF experiments draw interest at APS conference

Dec. 5, 2019- 
Ongoing experiments on the sun’s nucleosynthesis (element creation) processes and an update on progress toward achieving ignition were among the dozen invited talks about NIF-related research at the American Physical Society plasma physics conference this fall. The talks, which highlight the importance of NIF & Photon Science Directorate research, drew widespread interest from attendees of...

Frustraum hohlraum design is shaping up

Dec. 2, 2019- 
Hohlraums shaped like cylinders have been the workhorse of inertial confinement fusion (ICF) research for three decades. But now an angular hohlraum named “Frustraum” could become a key to the next stages of ICF research at the National Ignition Facility. The LLNL-designed Frustraum could enable a significant boost in the amount of laser-induced energy absorbed by an ICF fuel capsule, an...

NIF Army veteran attends Medal of Honor ceremony

Nov. 11, 2019- 
It’s been more than 10 years since John Ruiz, a mechanical designer in the National Ignition Facility’s (NIF) Facilities and Infrastructure Systems group, left the Army. But last summer, he found himself transported back to one of the most harrowing days of his Army career at the Medal of Honor ceremony for his former squad leader, Staff Sgt. David G. Bellavia. Ruiz was a senior at Tracy...

New research finds lead toughens up under extremes

Nov. 11, 2019- 
In a new paper published as an “Editors’ Suggestion” in Physical Review Letters, a team of researchers from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has demonstrated that lead — a metal so soft that it is difficult to machine at ambient conditions — responds similarly to other much stronger metals when rapidly compressed at high pressure. The paper also was highlighted by a “Viewpoint” in Physi...

Scholar learns from NIF’s ‘Tasting Platter of HED Science’

Nov. 7, 2019- 
As a kid, Raspberry Simpson found inspiration in the mysteries of the universe while spending many hours after school inside New York’s Hayden Planetarium. “I don’t really think I knew then I could be a scientist as a career, but I knew I was really interested in it,” Simpson said. “And I learned through lots of great teachers that this could be a job eventually.” This year, the MIT gra...

Summer scholar reels in ‘STRIPED FISH’ for NIF

Oct. 22, 2019- 
In high school, Liz Grace thought physics was boring and instead considered studying psychology or music. But then a college professor inspired Grace to see the wonders of physics. Today, as a National Ignition Facility (NIF) & Photon Science Summer Scholar, she’s helping to design and build a diagnostic instrument that could become a revolutionary measurement tool for NIF’s Advanced...

Artist wins award for ‘Best Comic Design’

Oct. 17, 2019- 
Artist John Jett of the NIF & Photon Science Document Services Team at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory was honored with a special Adobe Government Creativity Award for creating an educational comic book explaining the National Ignition Facility (NIF) and the types of careers that support the operation of the world’s largest and most energetic laser. Judges awarded the comic book...

Lab scholar makes impact on new diagnostic

Sept. 17, 2019- 
When Peter Nyholm became a NIF&PS Summer Scholar, he was following family tradition. Both of his parents had careers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) —his father as an electrical engineer and his mother as a nurse. Of his five siblings, two work at LLNL and another was previously an intern. This summer, Nyholm’s wife also was an intern in the Data Science Summer Institute....

NIF celebrates a decade of operations

Aug. 13, 2019- 
In the decade since Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s (LLNL) National Ignition Facility (NIF) began operations, NIF has routinely heated and compressed matter to some of the most extreme temperatures and pressures ever obtained on Earth – temperatures of 100 million degrees and pressures 100 billion times that of the Earth’s atmosphere.  See event photos. Funded by the Department of...

Physicist Maria Gatu Johnson wins APS award

Aug. 6, 2019- 
Nuclear physicist Maria Gatu Johnson, who plays a key role in inertial confinement fusion (ICF) and Discovery Science campaigns at the National Ignition Facility (NIF), was named winner of the Katherine E. Weimer Award recognizing outstanding plasma science research by a woman physicist in the early stages of her career. "I am honored and grateful that my efforts to do the best work I can...

Study reveals new structure of gold at extremes

July 30, 2019- 
Gold is an extremely important material for high-pressure experiments and is considered the "gold standard" for calculating pressure in static diamond anvil cell experiments. When compressed slowly at room temperature (on the order of seconds to minutes), gold prefers to be the face-centered cubic (fcc) structure at pressures up to three times the center of the Earth. However, researchers...