Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

High-Power Lasers Highlighted at Photonics West

LLNL researchers helped organize and were major participants in an international conference titled “High-Power Lasers for Fusion Research IV" during the annual SPIE Photonics West conference in San Francisco. The Laboratory’s Abdul Awwal chaired the well-attended Jan. 30 meeting, which brought together representatives of several international facilities pursuing laser-based fusion for a wide variety of applications, including its potential as an alternative energy source.

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“The goal of demonstrating inertial confinement fusion in the laboratory is a long and arduous path that requires solutions to many complex engineering problems,” Awwal said. “This conference is intended to provide a forum for bringing together the world body that is pursuing this route of alternate energy.”

Some highlights of the conference:

  • In an invited paper, Mark Bowers presented an overview of high-energy laser technology development at LLNL and discussed the status of the NIF laser and recent experimental results. The talk also described other activities at the Laboratory, including the development of high-average-power lasers and novel fiber lasers, and improvements to laser design and computational capabilities.
  • Rob Acree described pulse-contrast measurement on NIF’s Advanced Radiographic Capability (ARC) in another invited paper. Acree said accurate characterization of pulse contrast for high-power lasers is critical to the success of inertial confinement fusion experiments. ARC is a petawatt-class laser that produces picosecond-long pulses for the creation of diagnostic x rays.
  • Constantin Haefner, NIF & Photon Science program director for Advanced Photon Technologies, gave an invited paper titled, “High average power, scalable, all diode-pumped solid state petawatt laser system: Enabling future applications with bright secondary sources.” Haefner reported the record-breaking performance of the High-Repetition-Rate Advanced Petawatt Laser System (HAPLS) recently demonstrated, running 200,000 times faster than the original petawatt laser demonstrated in 1996 on the Laboratory’s NOVA Laser System (see “Record-Setting Petawatt Laser Meets Key Milestone”). Haefner described a vision for science and industrial applications that can now be addressed for the first time with high-repetition-rate, high-average-power petawatt lasers such as HAPLS.
  • Georg Korn of the Czech Republic presented an update on the status and planned first experiments at the ELI-Beamlines facility, now under construction as part of the European Union’s Extreme Light Infrastructure (ELI) project in the Czech Republic. HAPLS, designed and built at LLNL, will be the workhorse in the ELI-Beamlines user facility, focusing on high-brightness secondary-source generation with high-average-power short-pulse lasers. ELI will be an international facility for both academic and applied research and is scheduled to open for users at the beginning of 2018.

Papers describing the status of other large laser facilities, including the Laser Megajoule and the Laboratory for the Use of Intense Lasers in France and the Shanghai Institute of Optics and Fine Mechanics in China, also were presented. The papers will be published in SPIE proceedings later this year. The next conference on this topic will be held in 2019.

See Page 4 of the Photonics West Show Daily (PDF) for more information on the conference.