Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

NIF & Photon Science: Science on a Mission

The National Ignition Facility is a world premiere institution of high energy density (HED) and inertial confinement fusion (ICF) science, working to advance national security priorities such as ensuring the nation’s nuclear stockpile is safe, secure, and reliable through its Stockpile Stewardship Program as well as furthering basic science.

Since 2009, NIF has been home to the world’s largest laser system. By focusing 192 lasers on a single target, NIF creates conditions—temperatures of hundreds of millions of degrees and pressures 100 billion times that of the Earth’s atmosphere—that are similar to those found in stars and nuclear weapons.

The NIF team conducted 408 full-system shots on targets in Fiscal Year (FY) 2017. Of these, 300 were in support of stockpile stewardship: 165 shots explored HED science and 135 furthered the prospect of demonstrating ICF ignition, both critical elements in understanding the physics of nuclear weapons. Other shots supported diverse national security applications, pursued Discovery Science, and helped scientists develop new experimental capabilities. For an update on NIF’s recent progress, see the LLNL FY2017 Annual Report.

This new video, prepared for the American Physical Society (APS), describes NIF’s missions and science and captures the importance and excitement of conducting experiments on the world’s highest-energy laser system: