Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Along with its primary missions—global security, energy security, basic science, and national competitiveness—the NIF & Photon Science Directorate also pursues research and development projects to innovate and develop cutting-edge technologies in support of those missions. This effort strategically invests in new technologies and development of large-scale photon systems for various federal agencies and industry sponsors. NIF&PS researchers are developing world-class capabilities in laser technologies featuring high-average-power fibers; short-pulse lasers; gamma-ray light sources; precision, meter-scale gratings and optics; and advanced high-power diode arrays.

Diffractive Lenses
Advanced Optical Technologies
Meter-scale, lightweight diffractive lenses are being developed for next-generation space-based applications under "work for others" contracts. The program has designed and fabricated large-aperture holographic gratings for high-power laser applications. LLNL is providing large-aperture diffraction gratings to high-energy petawatt (1015 watt) projects throughout the world.

Fiber Laser
Fiber Lasers
Fiber lasers, a class of lasers in which optical fibers doped with rare-earth minerals are used as the gain medium, are robust, easy to use, and reliable. Optical fibers are always in alignment, and they excel at generating high average power with excellent beam quality. NIF & Photon Science researchers are extending the usefulness of fiber lasers in applications requiring high-average-power pulsed lasers.

Laser-Compton Light Source
Laser-Compton Light Source Technology
Laser-Compton light source technology is a new class of light source that produces gamma rays (high-energy x rays) by colliding, or scattering, photons from a short-pulse laser with electrons moving at near the speed of light—a technique known as Compton scattering. The peak brilliance of laser-Compton pulses can be 15 orders of magnitude beyond the current state of the art, enabling unique capabilities such as high-confidence detection of nuclear materials, which could be used to enhance security in the nation’s ports.

Advanced Radiography Capability
Short-Pulse Lasers
A petawatt-class quad of beams in NIF called the Advanced Radiographic Capability (ARC) is now being commissioned. NIF’s ARC uses and extends LLNL’s expertise in high-energy petawatt lasers to enable multiframe, hard-x-ray radiography of imploding NIF capsules—a capability that is critical to the success of NIF’s mission.

Mercury Laser
High-Powered Lasers
High-energy, high-average-power laser technologies will be required to generate electric power from laser-based inertial fusion. NIF & Photon Science’s efforts to develop the necessary laser technology for inertial fusion energy include the development of low-cost, high-energy, high-efficiency laser drivers with repetition rates of several times a second. The Mercury laser project, a scalable diode-pumped laser test bed, has demonstrated the viability of diode-pumped laser technology to produce energetic laser pulses at repetition rates of 10 shots per second with the electrically efficiency required for commercial laser fusion power.