Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

February 26, 2020

Group photo of attendees at the NIF and JLF User Group Meeting
Attendees at the NIF and JLF User Group Meeting represent 42 institutions across six countries. Photos by Jason Laurea (Click to expand. Use keyboard arrow keys to view all photos.)

The annual NIF and Jupiter Laser Facility (JLF) User Group meeting held this month brought together 186 researchers to review recent experimental results, preview upcoming Discovery Science campaigns, and learn about new capabilities and experimental platforms at  both LLNL facilities.

The attendees included 56 students and represented approximately 42 institutions from six countries (See Video).

The theme of the opening remarks was one of gratitude to the user community for their inventive science and excitement for the future of high energy density (HED) science. The Department of Energy’s perspective was presented by Njema Frazier, representing the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Program Office, and Kramer Akli of the DOE Office of Science.

Photo of Anna Grassi of SLAC
Anna Grassi of SLAC explains her research to onlookers at one of the three poster sessions at the NIF & JLF User Group meeting.

NNSA provided support for 26 graduate students, one undergraduate student, and three postdoctoral scholars to attend. In addition, the DOE Office of Science/Fusion Energy Sciences provided support for 13 travelers to visit LLNL for technical discussions, observe NIF Discovery Science experiments, and attend the meeting. 

NIF & Photon Science Principal Associate Director Jeff Wisoff expressed gratitude for all of NIF’s Discovery Science program partners.

“I want to thank our sponsors, NNSA and the Office of Science, our partners around the world, and most of all, you, for the ingenuity and new ideas that you bring,” Wisoff said. “NIF would be just a machine without scientists like you. I am very optimistic about the future.”

Photo of Mandy Bethkenhagen and LLNL’s Tilo Döppner
Mandy Bethkenhagen, University of Rostock, and LLNL’s Tilo Döppner.

NIF Director Mark Herrmann described NIF’s exciting advances of the past year, including the first experiments using an externally generated magnetic field; the Advanced Radiographic Capability (ARC) laser system achieving a milestone 100th experiment; and new diagnostic capabilities to help address fundamental science questions.

“This is one of the most exciting times in my career in HED science, in terms of the support and recognition that the field is getting,” he said.

Luke Fletcher, chair of the Jupiter Laser Facility User Group Executive Committee, described the facility’s two primary missions: to provide a training ground for future scientists and a venue for Discovery Science experiments to produce high-impact scientific research.

In January, the JLF began a 1.5-year shutdown period to refurbish the laser. In parallel, the DOE Office of Science Fusion Energy Sciences (FES) program has funded the addition of a third high energy beamline to the facility. The first call for proposals on the upgraded JLF is not expected until early next year, with full operations expected to resume in July 2021.

Photo of physicist Will Fox being interviewed
Physicist Will Fox from Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory is interviewed by LLNL’s Brian Chavez, middle, and Mark Meamber, right, who are recording a video of the NIF & JLF User Group meeting.

Status updates were also given by Roger Falcone, chair of the NIF User Group Executive Committee; Pat Falcone, Deputy Director for Science and Technology, on behalf of Lab Director Bill Goldstein; and Kim Budil, Principal Associate Director for Weapons Complex Integration.

As in previous years, talks were paired around ongoing NIF Discovery Science research projects with a prominent theorist describing general physics problems followed by an investigator conducting NIF experiments that inform those broad questions. The topics and speakers were:

  • Hydrodynamic Instabilities: Bhuvana Srinivasan, Virginia Tech, “Hydrodynamic instabilities and mix mitigation in high-energy-density regimes;” Josh Sauppe, Los Alamos National Laboratory, “A Cylindrical Implosion Platform to Study Hydrodynamic Instabilities in High Energy Density Regimes”
  • Astrophysics: Damiano Caprioli, University of Chicago, “The Microphysics of Collisionless Shocks;” Anna Grassi, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, “Observation of collisionless shock formation and electron acceleration on NIF experiments”
  • Materials Science: Rob Rudd, LLNL, “Theory of the mechanical response of iron at Earth core (and NIF) pressures;” Marc Meyers, University of California San Diego, “Extreme mechanical response of iron in compression and tension”
  • Pair Production: Steven Rose, Imperial College, “Using thermal fields to investigate QED processes with high-power lasers;” Hui Chen, LLNL, “Relativistic (e+,e-) Pair Plasma Generation with the ARC.”

“The NIF User Group Executive Committee did an excellent job putting together these impactful presentations,” said NIF User Office Director Kevin Fournier. “New this year was generous support from four sponsors for a wonderful social event making it possible for LLNL personnel to attend with virtually no cost out of pocket and interact in a fun, relaxed atmosphere with their academic colleagues.” 

Three business partners — General Atomics, Luxel, Light Stream Labs — and the UC Office of the President provided support for the social event.

Photo of best poster award winners
Best poster awards: JLF User Group Chair Luke Fletcher; Adam Reyes (first place, postdoctoral); Peter Heuer (first place, graduate); Heath LeFevre, accepting on behalf of Michael Wadas, who won the second place graduate award but is not in the photo; and NIF User Group Vice Chair Petros Tzeferacos.

At the end of the event, Fletcher and NIF User Group Vice Chair Petros Tzeferacos presented awards for the best posters to:

  • First place postdoctoral scholar: Adam Reyes, University of Chicago
  • First place graduate scholar: Peter Heuer, UCLA.
  • Second place graduate scholar: Michael Wadas, University of Michigan

The NIF User Office organized and hosted the event again this year, including managing student travel support, sponsorship for the social event, and all the aspects of arranging logistics at the offsite venue, the Bella Rosa Conference Center at the Garré Vineyard & Winery. The User Office administrative staff did a wonderful job.

Photo of bocce ball players
The meeting included a dinner social at Campo di Bocce in Livermore. And whether it’s for HED science or bocce ball, precision measurements are crucial.
A NIF and JLF User Group Meeting attendee takes aim at bocce ball pallino.
A NIF and JLF User Group Meeting attendee takes aim at bocce ball pallino.
Photo of NIF Director Mark Herrmann chatting with Professor Farhat Beg of UC San Diego
NIF Director Mark Herrmann chats with Professor Farhat Beg of the University of California San Diego.
Photo of the admins who made it all happen
The admins who made it all happen: Left to right, Peggy Sharp, Sarah Camarillo, Jennifer Boyd, and Eileen De La Peña.

More photos:

For more, see Video: NIF-JLF User Group 2020 Meeting

—Patricia Koning

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