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Lasers and Optical S&T

NIF scholar turns internship into unique experience

Alexus “Lexi” Warchock was initially disappointed when she learned the NIF & Photon Science Summer Scholar Program would be continuing — but as a virtual internship. “I was upset knowing I would miss out on seeing firsthand the amazing (Lab) facility and interacting with other Lab employees,” the University of Michigan-Dearborn senior said. “My dream of moving out from…

DOE awards $18 million to LaserNetUS consortium

LaserNetUS, a network of facilities operating ultra-powerful lasers including those at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), has received $18 million from the Department of Energy (DOE) for user support. Established in 2018 by DOE, LaserNetUS is organized and funded by DOE’s Office of Fusion Energy Sciences (FES). The new network was created to provide vastly…

Félicie Albert elected NAS Kavli Fellow

Félicie Albert, staff scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's (LLNL) NIF & Photon Science and the Joint High Energy Density Sciences organization, has been elected a Kavli Fellow of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (NAS). As a new Kavli Fellow, Albert was invited to present a poster about next-generation X-ray light sources during NAS’ annual Kavli…

ICF implosions have significant 3D asymmetries

Data correlating two factors that lead to implosion asymmetries have brought Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) scientists a step closer to understanding the gap between simulations and performance of inertial confinement fusion (ICF) experiments at the National Ignition Facility (NIF). These experiments aim to ignite a propagating fusion burn wave in deuterium…

LLNL joins new research on atom-changing pressures

High energy density (HED) scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) have helped launch a new National Science Foundation (NSF) effort to understand the physical and astrophysical properties of matter under pressures strong enough to change the structure of individual atoms. The Center for Matter at Atomic Pressures (CMAP) is hosted by the University of…

SPIE honors Richard Leach with senior member designation

SPIE, the International Society for Optics and Photonics, recently announced the election of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) research engineer Richard Leach as a senior member of the organization. SPIE recognizes senior members based on exceptional professional experience, active involvement with the optics community and/or significant performance that sets…

Scientists encouraged by Frustraum experiments at NIF

Initial NIF experiments using a full-scale version of the Frustraum hohlraum have produced nearly round inertial confinement fusion (ICF) implosions and more laser-induced energy absorption by the fuel-filled capsule. National Ignition Facility (NIF) researchers are optimistic that results from the initial tests of the novel angular-shaped hohlraum could create more…

Record EOS measurement pressures shed light on stellar evolution

Using the power of the National Ignition Facility (NIF), the world’s highest-energy laser system, researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and an international team of collaborators have developed an experimental capability for measuring the basic properties of matter, such as the equation of state (EOS), at the highest pressures thus far achieved in a…

APS honors scientists for plasma physics excellence

Three scientists from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) are recipients of the 2020 John Dawson Award for Excellence in Plasma Physics Research from the American Physical Society. The honor recognizes a particular recent outstanding achievement in plasma physics research. Hye-Sook Park, Steven Ross and Dmitri Ryutov are part of an international team of…

New way to study how elements mix in giant planets

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…

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

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…

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

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…

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

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…

ARC results provide a ‘pleasant surprise’

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…

Nuclear diagnostics help pave way to ignition on NIF

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…

Focusing target gives powerful boost to NIF’s ARC

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…

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

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…

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

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…

NIF experiments draw interest at APS conference

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…

Frustraum hohlraum design is shaping up

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…