Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

The World’s Largest And
Highest-Energy Laser

Big Science
The National Ignition Facility (NIF) is the size of a sports stadium—three football fields could fit inside. NIF’s unique energy and power enable cutting-edge research to help keep America safe and secure, explore new frontiers of science, and lay the groundwork for a clean, sustainable source of energy.
Extreme Precision
NIF is the world’s most precise and reproducible laser system. It precisely guides, amplifies, reflects, and focuses 192 powerful laser beams into a target about the size of a pencil eraser in a few billionths of a second, delivering more than 2 million joules of ultraviolet energy and 500 trillion watts of peak power.
Nuclear Fusion
NIF generates temperatures in the target of more than 180 million degrees Fahrenheit and pressures of more than 100 billion Earth atmospheres. Those extreme conditions cause hydrogen atoms in the target to fuse and release energy in a controlled thermonuclear reaction.

Maintaining the Nuclear Deterrent

Stockpile Stewardship
NIF is a key element of the National Nuclear Security Administration’s science-based Stockpile Stewardship Program to maintain the reliability, security, and safety of the U.S. nuclear deterrent without full-scale testing.
Under Pressure: HED Science
The High Energy Density science program studies material behavior under extreme pressure, enabling researchers to conduct weapon physics experiments in a controlled laboratory environment once possible only with underground testing.

Science & Technology on a Mission

Achieving Ignition
These experiments contributed to NIF’s ability to achieve fusion ignition in the lab for the first time. In an ignition shot, more fusion energy is generated than the amount of laser energy delivered to the target.
Exploring New Horizons
The drive toward ignition helps ensure the reliability of the nuclear deterrent, while also opening new frontiers in laboratory astrophysics, materials science, hydrodynamics, and many other scientific disciplines.

Groundbreaking Science

Discovery Science
NIF’s research helps users gain new insights into the mechanisms driving new and dying stars, supernova hydrodynamics, black holes, cosmic magnetic fields, warm dense matter, and the interiors of giant planets.
Energy Security
NIF experiments will provide the scientific basis for a revolution in energy production. Inertial fusion energy offers the potential for virtually unlimited safe and sustainable clean energy by harnessing the power of the sun and stars.

The Future of Science

Research for the World
The opportunity to conduct leading-edge research with NIF’s world-class facilities attracts researchers and academic users who are innovative thinkers and future leaders in the broader scientific community. The interests of NIF users are represented by the NIF User Group.
A New Generation
NIF experiments help maintain the skills of nuclear weapons scientists and train the next generation to carry on stewardship of the nation’s nuclear stockpile. Our research constantly challenges these men and women to solve hard problems.
Join Our Mission
For the NIF & Photon Science Directorate, stewardship includes attracting, training, and retaining future generations of scientists, engineers, programmers, technicians, and other skilled workers. Click here to learn more about available career opportunities.

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