Enduring NIF partnerships include representatives from throughout government, industry, and the academic sector. Longstanding Lawrence Livermore/NIF partners include researchers from Los Alamos and Sandia national laboratories, General Atomics, and the Laboratory for Laser Energetics at the University of Rochester (LLE/UR). Other key contributors include the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) in England and the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA).
For stockpile stewardship, the National Nuclear Security Administration program to assure the safety, security, and reliability of the U.S. nuclear stockpile, NIF experiments involve scientists from throughout NNSA’s weapons complex. Similar experiments are also conducted with researchers from Britain’s AWE.
For experiments devoted to furthering the understanding of the universe, NIF is transitioning to a true international user facility. A campus at Lawrence Livermore for high-energy-density science research allows collaborators from different institutions to more easily work on NIF experiments. To make effective use of their allotted shot time, many teams first develop their experimental setups at smaller facilities, such as the OMEGA laser at LLE/UR and the Jupiter Laser Facility at Livermore.
More than 3,000 U.S. companies contributed to building NIF and its tens of thousands of components. The challenges associated with building the world’s largest laser were enormous, particularly in managing such a large, technically complex project, developing laser and optical technologies, and constructing and aligning the superclean environmental enclosures that contain the 192 laser beams. The construction effort alone required the involvement of the best of America’s construction industries. Scientists recognized that the giant facility’s technical successes depended upon the most advanced products and processes offered by hundreds of American high-technology companies. As a result, Lawrence Livermore engineers and scientists partnered with manufacturing companies in optics, communications, integrated circuits, computer controls, diagnostics, and precision parts fabrication.
Companies such as Cleveland Crystals, Kodak, Hoya Corp. USA, SCHOTT North America, Spectra-Physics, Tinsley Laboratories, Inabata, Zygo Corp., and many others developed new optical components, instruments, and mass-production manufacturing processes to ensure that NIF’s optics were produced within performance, cost, and schedule requirements. Many components in NIF’s laser system represent significant advancements of current technologies, while other components are entirely new designs. For example, a revolutionary process developed by LLNL and two industrial partners, SCHOTT North America and Hoya Corp. USA, produces meter-size plates of laser glass at a rate 20 times faster and 5 times cheaper than was possible with previous technology, and the glass has much better optical quality. More than 3,000 pieces of laser glass amplifer slabs (neodymium-doped phosphate glass) were manufactured by Hoya Corp. and SCHOTT North America.
The continuing effort to design and build a suite of diagnostics is an international collaboration, involving researchers from Lawrence Livermore, Lawrence Berkeley, Los Alamos, Brookhaven, and Sandia national laboratories; National Security Technologies, LLC; LLE/UR; MIT; Duke University; AWE; and CEA. Scientists from a number of universities also are contributing, including researchers from Colorado School of Mines, UCLA, and Geneseo State University.