A multi-laboratory Joint Central Diagnostic Team, funded through the inertial confinement fusion program at the various National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) laboratories, was formed in the mid-1990s to coordinate efforts to develop and implement a comprehensive suite of diagnostics on NIF.
As a result, NIF has more than 120 diagnostics available to measure and analyze experimental results. And every year, NIF and its partners develop about a dozen new diagnostics to meet new measurement challenges.
This continuing effort is an international collaboration of researchers from Lawrence Livermore, Lawrence Berkeley, Los Alamos (LANL), Brookhaven, and Sandia national laboratories; General Atomics; National Security Technologies, LLC (NST); the Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE) at the University of Rochester; the Aomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) in the United Kingdom; and the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA). Scientists from a number of universities also contribute, including researchers from MIT, Duke, Colorado School of Mines, UCLA, and State University of New York College at Geneseo.
Sandia, for example, worked with LLNL to develop a number of key diagnostics, including the Icarus hybrid-CMOS imager, the STAR (sample test and recovery) radiation-effects diagnostic, the Wolter x-ray microscope, and the RAGS (radiochemical analysis of gaseous samples) cryogenic system that collects the gaseous debris from the NIF Target Chamber after a laser shot and purifies and analyzes the debris for radioactive gas products.
The U.K.’s AWE has supplied NIF with physics packages that study radiation transport for stockpile stewardship. LANL, along with the Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE) and LLNL, led the development of a third neutron imaging system that provides a 3D image showing the size and shape of the burning deuterium-tritium plasma during the ignition stage of a NIF implosion.
And LLE, with funding from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, developed NIF’s first streaked x-ray spectrometer, the NXS, for a variety of time-resolved, high-resolution spectroscopic experiments.
Here are just a few examples of NIF & Photon Science’s experimental and technology partnerships:
Many more partners—small and medium-sized companies as well as universities—support optics fabrication, facility infrastructure projects, and other aspects of NIF operations.
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.
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 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.
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 & Co., 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 were entirely new designs. For example, a revolutionary process developed by LLNL and two industrial partners, SCHOTT North America and Hoya Corp. USA, produced 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 (see The Seven Wonders of NIF). More than 3,000 pieces of laser glass amplifier slabs (neodymium-doped phosphate glass) were manufactured by Hoya Corp. and SCHOTT North America.