The NIF: An international high energy density science and inertial fusion user facility
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, 7000 East Avenue, Livermore, CA 9445, USA
Published online: 15 November 2013
The National Ignition Facility (NIF), a 1.8-MJ/500-TW Nd:Glass laser facility designed to study inertial confinement fusion (ICF) and high-energy-density science (HEDS), is operational at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). A primary goal of NIF is to create the conditions necessary to demonstrate laboratory-scale thermonuclear ignition and burn. NIF experiments in support of indirect-drive ignition began late in FY2009 as part of the National Ignition Campaign (NIC), an international effort to achieve fusion ignition in the laboratory. To date, all of the capabilities to conduct implosion experiments are in place with the goal of demonstrating ignition and developing a predictable fusion experimental platform in 2012. The results from experiments completed are encouraging for the near-term achievement of ignition. Capsule implosion experiments at energies up to 1.6 MJ have demonstrated laser energetics, radiation temperatures, and symmetry control that scale to ignition conditions. Of particular importance is the demonstration of peak hohlraum temperatures near 300 eV with overall backscatter less than 15%. Important national security and basic science experiments have also been conducted on NIF. Successful demonstration of ignition and net energy gain on NIF will be a major step towards demonstrating the feasibility of laser-driven Inertial Fusion Energy (IFE). This paper will describe the results achieved so far on the path toward ignition, the beginning of fundamental science experiments and the plans to transition NIF to an international user facility providing access to HEDS and fusion energy researchers around the world.
© Owned by the authors, published by EDP Sciences, 2013
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