Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

LLNL is issuing a call for proposals for experiments in the Discovery Science (DS) program on the NIF starting nominally in spring of 2020 and extending into FY2021.  Note that the FY19 President’s budget request reduces funding for NIF and the national ICF program. If the President’s budget request is enacted, NIF will reduce its operating hours and the time awarded to Discovery Science under this call will be reduced. If the budget for NIF is maintained, the NIF Director expects to make eighteen days of facility time available for DS experiments beginning in FY2020.
The application process is as follows:

  1. Applicants shall enter a title and upload a Letter of Intent (LOI) via the NIF User Portal by June 21, 2018. A template for the LOI will be available for download from the NIF User Portal. The LOI should be no more than three pages in length, including references and figures. The LOI should emphasize what capabilities are required from the facility to support the experiments and should provide enough detail of the proposed investigations to allow the NIF User Office and the DS Program Leader to provide meaningful feedback. Applicants are free to submit as many proposals as they wish. A separate LOI must be submitted for each proposed campaign.
  2. After NIF User Office and DS Program Leader feedback on the LOI is provided, applicants so invited may submit a full written proposal via the NIF User Portal by September 6, 2018. Based on a review of the full proposal by the DS Technical Review Committee (TRC), the NIF Director will invite submitters of the top proposals to prepare an oral presentation in support of their proposal, which will be presented in the mid-October time frame, via remote access. Decisions on the proposals are expected to be communicated before the end of December.  Format and other relevant details for the oral presentation will be provided at that time.

Facility access is allocated in units of time (typically “shot days”). The number of shots delivered per day is a function of experimental complexity. Awards will be made commensurate with the science needs of the proposal. Awards to date have been for one to three days per campaign. All researchers are welcome to apply, including those who have been awarded time in previous solicitations. The NIF DS TRC will use its discretion in evaluating new proposals from teams that have previously been awarded time but have not yet taken shots or produced data.  Teams that have previously been awarded time and have taken shots will need to provide a description of what has been learned, the status of the analysis, and a list of any publications from previous NIF DS shots that have appeared or have been submitted for publication.
A resource for potential applicants is the NIF Use Guide, which is available online at this link.  Potential applicants are invited to participate and ask questions of the NIF User Office staff. We are providing a single point of contact for facility questions; only responses from the NIF User Office Director, Kevin Fournier, should be taken as the facility guidance to questions about capabilities.

Proposal subject areas:
Researchers may apply for NIF facility time to execute experiments in any area of science accessible on the NIF. Proposals will be judged on their scientific merit and technical achievability. Science relevant to fusion ignition will be considered but will be judged solely on the basis of its quality as fundamental science. In particular, the results of the experiment must be of significant interest in other fields, consistent with guidelines for publication in a highly ranked journal. Examples of previously awarded successful proposals are available on the Call for Proposal Website for 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017.
All researchers involved in NIF experiments will be required to follow LLNL policies and procedures regarding site access, computer use, and related topics.  The PI for each research team that is awarded facility time through this call is encouraged to present their proposed research program at the NIF User Group Meeting taking place in February 2019. (An award of shot time does not come with funding to support the PI’s travel to the NIF User Group Meeting.)

Types of awards and award time frame:
Awards will be made in the following categories:

  1. Facility time for data acquisition shots:

Facility time will be awarded in this category for experiments using existing capabilities. The proposal will need to be at a level of maturity consistent with being able to obtain data with high confidence during FY20 or early FY21. Experiments in this category will use existing platforms, diagnostics, target fabrication and other capabilities.

  1. Facility time for platform development activities:

Facility time and/or support for new experimental platforms that will use existing diagnostic capabilities in new ways will be awarded to develop the platform. This type of work is aimed at preparing a science campaign for data acquisition in subsequent scheduling periods.  Expanding the scientific breadth and capabilities of NIF is a core goal of this category, particularly where there may be cross-over benefits to other users.

Research groups that have a novel idea that they think will make a good proposal in the future are invited to contact the NIF User Office to request guidance on developing their ideas into concepts that can be pursued at the NIF or proposed in subsequent calls for DS proposals. 
Eligible applicants:
Principal Investigators, Experimental Leads, and team members may be associated with a national laboratory, academic institution, or the private sector, and may be from the United States (US) or outside the US. As stated above, each LOI will undergo both technical review as well as a national security review consistent with LLNL and NNSA policies.  Invitations to submit full proposals following the LOI review will reflect the outcome of that review.  (Proposals submitted in response to this call will undergo both technical and national security reviews as well.)

How to apply: Applicants will upload a completed LOI template via the NIF User Portal by June 21, 2018. Full proposals must be completed and submitted electronically by September 6, 2018. Proposal instructions can be found on the Call for Proposal Website.
Further information regarding the LOI submission is available by contacting the NIF User Office:
(925) 422-2179,
Proposal time frame and review process schedule:





Letters of Intent due (via NIF User Portal)


Feedback to PI on LOI and liaison assignments if requested


Final full proposals due (via NIF User Portal)


Facility Readiness Committee review


Technical Review Committee review


Invitation to top proposal submitters to prepare an oral presentation


Oral Presentation of top proposals (by invitation)

Mid October

Award notifications

Early December

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