Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory



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Spotlight On:

Threshold of Ignition


Building to a Solution: The Elements of a Fusion Breakthrough

On Aug. 8, 2021, a NIF experiment took a significant step toward ignition, achieving a fusion energy yield of 1.35 megajoules (MJ). This seven-part special report explores how NIF achieved this “Wright Brothers moment” and what it means for science and our nation. Read Part 1...


Diagram of NIF Energy-Coupling Efficiency

‘Hybrid’ Experiments Drive NIF Toward Ignition

Part 2: The record shot was part of a series of high-yield big-radius implosion design experiments coupling the best of previous experiments with rapidly advancing diagnostic and modeling technology. Read more...

Operator Removes Neutron Imager Snout from a Diagnostic Instrument Manipulator

NIF Diagnostics Played Key Role in Fusion Milestone

Part 3: NIF’s highly specialized and sophisticated measuring instruments known as diagnostics were integral to the record-setting fusion experiment. Read more...

Image of Diamond Capsule Inside Hohlraum

Diamond Capsule Quality Enhanced Record Shot

Part 4: The quality of the high-density carbon (HDC), or diamond, target capsule was a factor in NIF’s record-smashing 1.35-megajoule (MJ) energy-yield experiment. Read more...

NIF 1.3 MJ F logo

Laser and Optics Upgrades Paved Way to Milestone

Part 5: The work of innovative NIF & Photon Science laser system engineering, operations, and optic materials teams prepared NIF for the record-setting Aug. 8 experiment that brought researchers to the threshold of ignition. Read more...

Illustration of Sierra supercomputer and NIF

Simulations Help Map NIF’s Path to Ignition

Part 6: ICF researchers use increasingly sophisticated computational models and simulations informed by diagnostic data and analysis of previous experiments to guide them toward ignition. Read more...

A NIF Plutonium Experiment

Future of Stewardship, Fusion Energy Science

Part 7: Two fields that stand to gain from NIF’s record shot are stockpile stewardship science and the quest for inertial fusion energy. Read more...

RELATED STORIES

Stylized image shows a cryogenic target used for record-setting inertial fusion experiments at NIF. Credit: James Wickbold

Peer-Reviewed Papers Highlight Record NIF Result

The scientific results of NIF’s record 1.35 megajoule experiment have been published in three peer-reviewed papers, one in Physical Review Letters and two in Physical Review E. Read more...

Graphic of 1.35 MJ Shot

Video: ‘The Threshold of Ignition’

In a video, LLNL’s Kim Budil, Jeff Wisoff, and Brad Wallin discuss how NIF’s historic 1.35 megajoule milestone is important for science and our nation’s nuclear and energy security. Read more...

Result of Cross-Beam Energy Transfer

NIF Generating Headlines Around the World

NIF’s significant step toward ignition is generating news stories around the world. You can find links to those stories on our In the News page.
Read more...

Graphic showing target used in high-yield NIF experiments

Hurricane Outlines Steps to NIF’s Fusion Milestone

In an International Atomic Energy Agency webinar, ICF Chief Scientist Omar Hurricane described the process that led to the ground-breaking NIF experiment on Aug. 8, 2021. Read more...

Science on Saturday

Science on Saturday: Harnessing Nuclear Fusion

Video: LLNL scientists Derek Mariscal and Dave Schlossberg presented a recent Science on Saturday session on “Bringing Star Power to Earth: Harnessing Nuclear Fusion.” Read more...

Screenshot of LLNL Director Kim Budil moderating the opening panel of White House Fusion Summit

White House Summit Celebrates Fusion Milestones

NIF’s breakthrough experiment last August factored heavily in the discussions during a recent White House summit on fusion energy milestones and a “bold” 10-year plan for commercialization. Read more...

Graphic summarizing some of the major requirements of an inertial fusion energy reactor

Prospects and Challenges for Inertial Fusion Energy

Excitement and optimism tempered by warnings against unrealistic expectations were the themes emerging from an LLNL-sponsored workshop on the potential for inertial confinement fusion energy.
Read more...

Photo of James Mitrani

Thermonuclear Fusion in a Sheared-Flow Z-Pinch

Research led by LLNL physicists has proven the existence of neutrons produced through thermonuclear reactions from a sheared-flow stabilized Z-pinch device. Read more...

Photo of Saskia Mordijck, Kathryn Hulick, Arturo Dominguez, and Tammy Ma

NIF Expert Helps Shape Book Imagining the Future

NIF’s Tammy Ma helped shape a chapter in a new book imagining life on Earth in the not-so-distant future when fusion-generated electricity flows from a “trapped star.” Read more...

Photo of a cryogenic target. Credit: Jason Laurea

Nature: How LLNL Achieved Burning Plasma Regime

In the Jan. 26 issue of Nature, LLNL physicists detail how a burning plasma state was achieved for the first time in a laboratory during experiments at NIF in November 2020 and February 2021. Read more...

Illustration of the two inertial confinement fusion (ICF) designs

Burning Plasma Target and Laser Designs

In a Nature Physics paper, NIF researchers describe innovative target and laser designs that led to achieving a burning plasma state during experiments in 2020 and 2021. Read more...

APS Logo

Fusion Milestone Creates Buzz at APS Meeting

LLNL physicist Debbie Callahan has given plenty of presentations over the years—but she didn’t expect a standing ovation at the 2021 APS Division of Plasma Physics meeting. Read more...

Photo of NIF Preamplifiers

Physics Today’s Most Read Story: Fusion Milestone

“Lawrence Livermore Claims a Milestone in Laser Fusion” was the most read story on Physics Today’s website in 2021. Read more...

Image of ICF experiment

Fusion Milestone a Science Breakthrough Finalist

We’re honored that NIF’s record-setting Aug. 8 fusion experiment finished as one of the runners-up for Science magazine’s scientific breakthroughs of 2021. Read more ...

Photo of Final Optics Assembly

Fusion Breakthrough One of Physics World’s Top 10

NIF’s fusion shot that brought researchers to the threshold of ignition was named one of Physics World’s Top 10 scientific “Breakthroughs of 2021.” Read more...


August 18, 2021

NIF 1.3 MJ F logo

NIF Researchers at Threshold of Fusion Ignition

An August 8, 2021 NIF experiment made a significant step toward ignition, achieving a yield of more than 1.3 megajoules (MJ). This advancement puts researchers at the threshold of fusion ignition. Read more...


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