NIF & Photon Science
Mary Spaeth earned her M.S. degree in nuclear physics at Wayne State University in 1962. She began her career as a physicist at Hughes Aircraft Company, where she developed the first brassboard laser range finder and invented tunable dye lasers. From 1975 to 1990, she was physicist and manager/program leader of the LLNL Atomic Vapor Laser Isotope Separation program, where she was in charge of laser system development and program-wide Systems Engineering. She joined the NIF Program in 1999 and soon thereafter became the leader of the Systems Engineering effort for construction and commissioning of the NIF laser. Her responsibility for NIF was to ensure that the NIF technical requirements were well defined and that the hardware as implemented in NIF could meet those requirements for at least the next 30 years. As part of her responsibilities, she invented and drove the successful implementation of the Optics Recycle Loop, a capability that allows NIF to operate routinely at its design point, well above the limits set by optical damage.