“NIF’s technical capabilities are truly spectacular, and have empowered new research collaborations that have led to significant breakthroughs in understanding the formation and evolution of planets.”
—Raymond Jeanloz, professor of astronomy and earth and planetary science at UC Berkeley
Because NIF is a one-of-a-kind facility, it offers opportunities for research that were impossible a decade ago and are still unavailable anywhere else in the world. The NIF User Office supports the scores of researchers across the Department of Energy laboratory system and thousands of their colleagues in academia and industry around the world who compete to conduct experiments at NIF.
Its goal is to cultivate innovations that benefit the scientific community as well as Livermore’s missions of supporting stockpile stewardship and fundamental science research.
User Office Director Kevin Fournier’s committed team of scientists, engineers, and support staff strives to simplify and streamline the process of doing research at NIF. Their efforts have led, among other improvements, to an integrated suite of new tools for proposing, planning, and conducting shots on NIF.
Using the Salesforce™ platform, Fournier’s team and the NIF Data Systems group have centralized the submission and evaluation process, making everything simpler for both the scientists proposing experiments and the Technical Review Committee—the panel of experts from the HED science community that evaluates the proposals for scientific merit.
Once a shot is completed, the resulting data is archived and packaged on a Web interface so the researchers can view a wide variety of diagnostic information.
Discovery Science experiments conducted by NIF users range from deep in the Earth to the far reaches of the universe. Basic science research on the core density of supermassive Earth-like planets has not only helped astrophysicists better understand planet formation, it has helped Stockpile Stewardship Program (SSP) scientists develop techniques to examine how weapons materials behave at immense pressures. Scientists studying proton behavior in magnetic fields have provided useful data for the SSP program as well. The User Office’s work has as many benefits as NIF itself.
Other partners in NIF experiments, diagnostic and target development, and other activities include Los Alamos and Sandia national laboratories, General Atomics, the Laboratory for Laser Energetics at the University of Rochester, and the Atomic Weapons Establishment in the United Kingdom.
Many more partners—small and medium-sized companies as well as universities—support diagnostic development, optics fabrication, facility infrastructure projects, and other aspects of NIF operations.
“Laser Experiments Illuminate the Cosmos,” Science & Technology Review, December 2016
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