Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

These fact sheets discuss various National Ignition Facility-related topics in a printer-friendly PDF format:

What is NIF

What is NIF?

The National Ignition Facility (NIF) uses the world's largest laser to compress and heat BB-sized capsules of fusion fuel with the goal of thermonuclear ignition. NIF experiments produce temperatures and densities similar to those in stars and nuclear weapons. Download the PDF
NIF at a Glance

NIF at a Glance

Experiments conducted on NIF are making significant contributions to national and global security, could lead to practical fusion energy, and will help the nation maintain its leadership in basic science and technology.
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How NIF Works

From beginning to end, the total energy of NIF's laser beams grows from one-billionth of a joule to four million joules, a factor of more than a quadrillion – and it all happens in about five millionths of a second. Download the PDF
Seven Wonders of NIF

The Seven Wonders of NIF

Scientists, engineers and technicians had to overcome a daunting array of challenges.Download the PDF

Making a Star

NIF was designed to produce extraordinarily high temperatures and pressures – tens of millions of degrees and pressures many billion times greater than Earth's atmosphere. These conditions now exist only in the cores of stars and planets and in nuclear weapons.
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Stockpile Stewardship

NIF is the only facility that can perform controlled, experimental studies of thermonuclear burn, the phenomenon that gives rise to the immense energy of modern nuclear weapons. Download the PDF

A New Era of Science

Research at NIF promises to revolutionize our understanding of astrophysics and space physics, hydrodynamics, nuclear astrophysics, material properties, plasma physics, nonlinear optical physics, radiation sources and radiative properties and other areas of science. Download the PDF
Limitless Energy

The Promise of Limitless Energy

A fusion power plant would produce no greenhouse gas emissions, can operate continuously to meet demand, and would produce shorter-lived and easier-to-store radioactive byproducts than current fission power plants. Download the PDF
How Lasers Work

How Lasers Work

If the electrons in special glasses, crystals or gases are energized, they will emit light photons in response to a weak laser pulse. The photons will all be at the same wavelength and will also be "coherent," meaning the light wave’s crests and troughs are all in lockstep. Download the PDF


Why is NIF being built? What is stockpile stewardship? How soon will we have inertial fusion power plants? These questions and more are answered in the "Frequently Asked Questions" Fact Sheet.
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Fun Facts

NIF Fun Facts

NIF’s total optical surface area is three-quarters of an acre – 40 times the surface area of the giant Keck telescope in Hawaii. This and other "Fun Facts" about NIF can be found in this Fact Sheet. Download the PDF
Visitors' Brochure

"Bringing Star Power to Earth"

This colorful brochure illustrates the NIF laser system and describes the national security, energy, and science missions of the NIF & Photon Science Directorate. Download the PDF