Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory



September 16, 2022

Cryogenic targetThis photo shows the type of cryogenic target that the Dawson Award-winning research team used to reach the burning plasma state achieved for the first time in a laboratory experiment in at NIF, the world’s most energetic laser. Credit: Jason Laurea.

The research team that successfully achieved a burning plasma state in November 2020 and February 2021 at NIF was awarded the 2022 John Dawson Award for Excellence in Plasma Physics Research by the American Physical Society (APS).

The Burning Plasma Team, which consists of members from LLNL and other institutions, was cited “for the first laboratory demonstration of a burning deuterium-tritium plasma where alpha heating dominates the plasma energetics.”

The Dawson award recognizes a particular recent outstanding achievement in plasma physics research. The award, which includes a certificate citing the contributions made by the recipients, will be presented at an award ceremony at the Division of Plasma Physics annual meeting in October.

“This honor recognizes the hard work and dedication conducted by the Burning Plasma Team in achieving and entering the burning plasma regime in a laboratory,” said Mark Herrmann, director for the Weapon Physics and Design Program within LLNL’s Weapons and Complex Integration Directorate. “The work performed by the team was a key milestone in helping achieve the 1.35 MJ yield produced in August 2021. The team continues to explore and leverage the accumulated experimental data and simulations to move toward a more robust regime.”

Obtaining a burning plasma is a critical step toward self-sustaining fusion energy. A burning plasma is one in which the fusion reactions themselves are the primary source of heating in the plasma, which is necessary to sustain and propagate the burn to enable high-energy gain.

The work was detailed in the Jan. 26 issue of Nature titled “Burning plasma achieved in inertial fusion.” In addition, the work focusing on the designs that led to these results was featured in the Jan. 26 issue of Nature titled “Design of inertial fusion implosions reaching the burning plasma regime.”

The Burning Plasma Team includes:

Ben Bachmann, Kevin Baker, Richard Bionta, Debbie Callahan, Daniel Casey, Dan Clark, Jean-Michel Di Nicola, Laurent Divol, Tilo Doeppner, John Edwards, Maria Gatu Johnson, Kelly Hahn, Ed Hartouni, Matthias Hohenberger, Omar Hurricane, Shahab Khan, Annie Kritcher, Nino Landen, Brian MacGowan, Andrew MacPhee, Marty Marinak, Kevin Meaney, Alastair Moore, Abbas Nikroo, Art Pak, Prav Patel, Joe Ralph, Harry Robey, Steven Ross, Scott Sepke, Riccardo Tommasini, Petr Volegov, Chris Weber, Bruno Van Wonterghem, Chris Young, Alex Zylstra, and the NIF inertial confinement fusion (ICF) team.

More Information:

Special Series: Threshold of Ignition

“Three Peer-Reviewed Papers Highlight Scientific Results of NIF’s Record Shot,” NIF & Photon Science News, August 8, 2022

“Self-heating plasmas offer hope for energy from fusion,” Nature, January 26, 2022

—Michael Padilla

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