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Lasers and Optical S&T

Lawrence Livermore deploys world's highest peak-power laser diode arrays

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) has installed and commissioned the highest peak power laser diode arrays in the world, representing total peak power of 3.2 megawatts (MW).The diode arrays are a key component of the High-Repetition-Rate Advanced Petawatt Laser System (HAPLS), which is currently under construction at LLNL. When completed, the HAPLS laser system…

'Gigashot' laser installed for European project

A key component of the High-Repetition-Rate Advanced Petawatt Laser System (HAPLS) under construction at LLNL has been installed and commissioned. The new Gigashot-HE diode-pumped solid-state (DPSS) laser system will be used as a pump source for one of HAPLS’ high-energy titanium-doped sapphire (Ti:Sapphire) amplifier stages.When commissioned to its full design performance…

Determining structural evolution under pressure

The study of material properties under the conditions of extreme high pressures and strain rates is important for understanding meteor, asteroid or comet impacts, as well as in hypervelocity impact engineering, inertial confinement fusion (ICF) capsules, and basic high energy density (HED) physics. In a recent study published by Physical Review Letters, a team of LLNL…

Studying effects of target 'tents' on NIF

A systematic study of the effects on National Ignition Facility (NIF) implosions of the ultra-thin mounting membranes that support target capsules inside NIF hohlraums was reported by LLNL researchers in a Physics of Plasmas paper, published online Feb. 4.The performance of NIF’s inertial confinement fusion targets depends on the symmetric implosion of highly compressed…

Providing data for nuclear detectives

Fans of the popular TV series "CSI" know that the forensics experts who investigate crime scenes are looking for answers to three key questions: "Who did it; how did they do it; and can we stop them from doing it again?"The field of nuclear forensics, an important element of LLNL’s national security mission, has similar goals and uses similar techniques — but with even…

New research re-creates planet formation, super-Earths and giant planets in the laboratory

New laser-driven compression experiments reproduce the conditions deep inside exotic super-Earths and giant planet cores, and the conditions during the violent birth of Earth-like planets, documenting the material properties that determined planet formation and evolution processes.The experiments, reported in the Jan. 23 edition of Science, reveal the unusual properties of…

Lawrence Scholar, physicist awarded prestigious Newton International Fellowship

Matthew Levy, a Lawrence Scholar in the Physics Division at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), has been awarded the prestigious Newton International Fellowship by the Royal Society of the United Kingdom (UK).The highly competitive fellowship program makes 40 awards per year across all disciplines of the sciences and humanities, providing the opportunity for the…

Peering into cosmic magnetic fields

The generation of cosmic magnetic fields has long intrigued astrophysicists. Since it was first described in 1959, a phenomenon known as Weibel filamentation instability -- a plasma instability present in homogeneous or nearly homogeneous electromagnetic plasmas -- has generated tremendous theoretical interest from astrophysicists and plasma physicists as a potential…

Former Lab scientist honored for contributions to laser peening

The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s Industrial Partnerships Office recently honored former Lab scientist Luis Zapata for his contribution to a technology known as laser peening.Zapata received the Excellence in Technology Commercialization Award, which recognizes his outstanding technical contributions to the development of an LLNL laser system. Zapata was the…

Top 10 science and technology stories of 2014

In 2014, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) built on a 62-year tradition of translating basic science into technologies that ensure national security, address pressing real world problems and expand the boundaries of fundamental science.The top stories of the year are a reflection of the Laboratory’s ability to apply its core national security competencies to a…

Physics World names National Ignition Facility fuel gain top 10 breakthrough of the year

Physics World, an international monthly magazine published by the Institute of Physics, has named the National Ignition Facility’s (NIF) achievement of fuel gain one of its top 10 breakthroughs of the year. Ignition — the process of releasing fusion energy equal to or greater than the amount of energy used to confine the fuel — has long been considered the "holy grail" of…

X-ray laser acts as tool to track life's chemistry

An international research team that includes researchers from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has captured the highest-resolution protein snapshots ever taken with an X-ray laser, revealing how a key protein in a photosynthetic bacterium changes shape when hit by light.Human biology is a massive collection of chemical reactions and all involve proteins, known as the…

Measuring NIF's enormous shocks

NIF experiments generate enormous pressures—many millions of atmospheres—in a short time: just a few billionths of a second. When a pressure source of this type is applied to any material, the pressure wave in the material will quickly evolve into a shock front. One of NIF’s most versatile and frequently-used diagnostics, the Velocity Interferometer System for Any…

Vital NIF diagnostic receives upgrade

When the National Ignition Facility’s 192 intense laser beams are fired, a series of complex events begins. To capture and measure the vast amount of data generated during experiments, NIF is now equipped with about 60 nuclear, optical and X-ray diagnostics. One of these diagnostics, the Near Backscatter Imager (NBI), recently received an upgrade.Developed in the mid-2000s…

NASA taps Livermore photon scientists for heat-shield research

Researchers in Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's NIF & Photon Science Directorate are working with NASA Ames Research Center at Moffet Field, California on the development of technology to simulate re-entry effects on the heat shield for the Orion spacecraft, NASA's next crewed spaceship. Orion is designed to carry astronauts beyond low Earth orbit to deep-space…

Albright named president and CEO of HRL, Laboratories LLC

Parney Albright, former director of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, has been named the president and chief executive officer of HRL Laboratories, LLC. He takes over the job formerly occupied by William Jeffrey on Nov. 3. HRL is a commercial research and development center focused on advanced microelectronics, information and systems sciences, materials, sensors and…

Serendipitous holography reveals hidden cracks in shocked targets

In a recent article published in the Review of Scientific Instruments, a research team led by scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory describe a technique for 3D-image processing of a high-speed photograph of a target, "freezing" its motion and revealing hidden secrets.This technique is particularly applicable in targets that are "shocked." Shock physics is…

LLNL to play key role in 10 petawatt laser project

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has once again been selected to support the development and construction of an ultra-intense laser system for the European Union's Extreme Light Infrastructure Beamlines (ELI-Beamlines) in the Czech Republic.A consortium led by National Energetics Inc., in partnership with Ekspla UAB, was awarded the contract to construct the system,…

Susana Reyes assumes chair of American Nuclear Society Fusion Energy Division

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) nuclear engineer Susana Reyes has assumed the 2014-15 chairmanship of the American Nuclear Society (ANS) Fusion Energy Division, following her election as vice chair in 2012.Reyes has more than 12 years of experience in international fusion projects. She joined LLNL in 2001 to pursue her interest in fusion science and worked on…

From RAGS to riches

The Radiochemical Analysis of Gaseous Samples (RAGS) is a true trash to treasure story, turning debris from the National Ignition Facility's (NIF) target chamber into valuable data that helps to shape future experiments. The RAGS diagnostic, developed for NIF by Sandia National Laboratories and commissioned in 2012, is a cryogenic system designed to collect the gaseous…