The National Ignition Facility (NIF), at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, is the world’s largest laser. NIF houses 192 beams that can deliver over 1.8 MJ of ultraviolet energy and peak powers of 500 TW to a small target (<< cm3). The deposition of this energy in a small volume creates extreme radiation environments and large pressures in materials. These very large pressures have been used to create unique conditions for studying the behavior of matter at high energy densities (high energy density matter can be defined as having pressures greater than 1,000,000 times atmospheric pressure). Understanding the behavior of matter at high energy densities is important for our national security, many astrophysical questions, and obtaining inertial confinement fusion ignition. In this talk, I will provide an overview of the National Ignition Facility and some of the technology that enables it, discuss recent progress in high energy density science and inertial confinement fusion, and talk about the challenges and opportunities for future research.
This work is performed under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Energy by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory under Contract DE-AC52-07NA27344.