Extreme States of Matter, High Energy Density Physics: Laser Facilities worldwide / “about 20 facilities with a peak output laser power of 100TW (terawatts) and a pulse length below 1 ps (per second) are operated in the world’s leading laboratories. At least ten facilities of the same level are under construction or upgrading.”







High Energy Density Physics

According to Vladimir Fortov, “about 20 facilities with a peak output laser power of 100TW (terawatts) and a pulse length below 1 ps (per second) are operated in the world’s leading laboratories. At least ten facilities of the same level are under construction or upgrading.” This page is to give the reader an idea of how extensive laser facilities that experiement with high energy density physics now are. The photos are mainly from the Lawrence Livermore/NIF – The National Ignition Facility.
— Extreme States of Matter, High Energy Density Physics, Second Edition; Springer (textbooks Berlin & Switzerland), 2016.

The National Ignition Facility is the largest and most energetic laser facility ever built.  NIF is the size of a sports stadium—three football fields could fit inside. NIF is also the most precise and reproducible laser as well as the world’s largest optical instrument. The giant laser has nearly 40,000 optics that precisely guide, reflect, amplify, and focus 192 laser beams onto a fusion target about the size of a pencil eraser. NIF became operational in March 2009.

Built for Extremes
By focusing NIF’s laser beams onto a variety of targets, scientists create extreme states of matter, including temperatures of more than 100 million degrees Celsius (180 million degrees Fahrenheit) and pressures that exceed 100 billion times Earth’s atmosphere.  NIF users and collaborators include researchers from Department of Energy national laboratories, universities, and other U.S. and foreign research centers.










Enduring NIF partnerships include representatives from throughout government, industry, and the academic sector. Longstanding Lawrence Livermore/NIF partners include researchers from Los Alamos and Sandia national laboratories, General Atomics, and the Laboratory for Laser Energetics at the University of Rochester (LLE/UR). Other key contributors include the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) in England and the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA).

For stockpile stewardship, the National Nuclear Security Administration program to assure the safety, security, and reliability of the U.S. nuclear stockpile, NIF experiments involve scientists from throughout NNSA’s weapons complex. Similar experiments are also conducted with researchers from Britain’s AWE.

For experiments devoted to furthering the understanding of the universe, NIF is transitioning to a true international user facility. A campus at Lawrence Livermore for high-energy-density science research allows collaborators from different institutions to more easily work on NIF experiments. To make effective use of their allotted shot time, many teams first develop their experimental setups at smaller facilities, such as the OMEGA laser at LLE/UR and the Jupiter Laser Facility at Livermore.

Three Thousand Partners
More than 3,000 U.S. companies contributed to building NIF and its tens of thousands of components. The challenges associated with building the world’s largest laser were enormous, particularly in managing such a large, technically complex project, developing laser and optical technologies, and constructing and aligning the superclean environmental enclosures that contain the 192 laser beams. The construction effort alone required the involvement of the best of America’s construction industries. Scientists recognized that the giant facility’s technical successes depended upon the most advanced products and processes offered by hundreds of American high-technology companies. As a result, Lawrence Livermore engineers and scientists partnered with manufacturing companies in optics, communications, integrated circuits, computer controls, diagnostics, and precision parts fabrication.


National Security

NIF can create conditions—temperatures of 100 million degrees and pressures 100 billion times that of the Earth’s atmosphere—similar to those in stars and nuclear weapons. NIF is thus a cornerstone of the experimental element of stockpile stewardship.

The nuclear weapons in the U.S. stockpile range in age from more than 20 years to more than 40 years. The National Nuclear Security Administration’s Stockpile Stewardship Program (SSP) maintains the reliability and safety of the U.S. nuclear deterrent without the need for full-scale testing. The SSP is an ongoing process of surveillance, assessment, refurbishment, and reassessment.

NIF experiments are an essential component of the nation’s stockpile assessment and certification strategy because NIF provides the only process for scientists to gain access to and examine thermonuclear burn. These experiments also will help the nation maintain the skills of nuclear weapon scientists, which is crucial in order to assess the age-related changes that could compromise weapon reliability.

NIF allows researchers to perform experiments in a controlled environment and at a much higher rate than could have been imagined with underground testing. A problem can be picked apart and individual physics pieces can be studied. Researchers no longer have to wait for a supernova event to gather data or attempt to parse information from an underground test with limited diagnostics. Radiation transport also is central to the operation of nuclear weapons. With NIF, researchers can perform detailed radiation-hydrodynamic experiments.

Data from NIF experiments complement testing at other experimental facilities at Livermore and elsewhere. These data help inform and validate sophisticated, three-dimensional weapon simulation computer codes and bring about a fuller understanding of important weapon physics. In effect, NIF allows scientists to separate the pieces of the physics of a nuclear weapon and examine each piece in isolation.

Under Pressure
NIF beams also can be used to create conditions of extremely high energy density in materials. One example is using various arrangements of beams to shock materials and demonstrate how they behave at high temperatures and pressures. Understanding how the many different kinds of materials used in nuclear weapons behave, especially as they age beyond their intended lifetimes, under the extreme environments produced in a thermonuclear reaction is key.

NIF will be used to help address planned and proposed Stockpile Life-Extension programs, which are regularly planned refurbishments of weapon systems to ensure their long-term safety and reliability. Changes to weapon systems for safety and security can have unintended consequences if those changes cannot be fully validated. Full validation is achieved through the combination of experiments using facilities such as NIF and advanced computational modeling.






Peering into Thermonuclear Plasmas at the National Ignition Facility / Speaker: Daniel Casey, Ph.D. and Laura Robin Benedetti, Ph.D.; Staff Scientists
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

The goal of inertial confinement fusion (ICF) is to release copious amounts of energy by compressing isotopes of hydrogen to extreme conditions: i.e. densities and pressures, existing only for a few pico-seconds, that exceed those found in the core of our sun. The National Ignition Facility (NIF) was built to explore these conditions and attempt to demonstrate controlled thermonuclear fusion in the laboratory. The diagnoses of these extreme conditions at the short timescales and in the harsh environments where they exist is very challenging indeed.  A suite of world-class diagnostics (including optical, x-ray, and neutron detectors) have been developed to accomplish these goals.  This talk with introduce some basic requirements of ICF and techniques used to diagnose these experiments. Additionally, it will discuss a few techniques we are exploring for the future.

About the Speaker: 
Daniel Casey and Laura Robin Benedetti are staff scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory studying inertial confinement fusion (ICF) at the National Ignition Facility (NIF).  They work on diagnosing and understanding the properties of ICF implosions as the implosion achieves its highest densities and temperatures (stagnation).
Daniel Casey also performs experiments to study the growth of hydrodynamic instabilities of imploding capsules that can impede performance.  Previously, he helped design and commission the magnetic recoil spectrometer that measures the neutron spectrum of NIF implosions. Dr. Casey obtained his B.S. degree in Nuclear Engineering from the University of New Mexico (2005) and a Ph. D. in Applied Plasma Physics from the department of Nuclear Science and Engineering at MIT (2012).
Laura Robin Benedetti also probes the properties of materials at extreme pressures, temperatures, and strain rates.  Additionally, she is a world recognized expert at high speed x-ray imaging instruments and related technologies. Prior to working at LLNL she studied the physical and chemical properties of materials in giant planets.  Dr. Benedetti has a B.S. degree in Aerospace Engineering and a B. A. in Philosophy from the University of Southern California (1994) and a Ph.D. in Physics from University of California Berkeley (2001).


LASER MegaJoule/PETawatt Aquitaine Laser – 19 September 2014 / PDF
LMJ characteristics & status
The laser bays and target bay are complete
The first bundle (8 beams) is under test
High energy test shots at 3w has begun
The first experiments will be carry out on December 2014
PETAL characteristics & status
The PW beamline, compressor and focusing system are complete
Alignment process is in progress
Test shots at PW level will be performed next year
Academic access to LMJ-PETAL
LMJ-PETAL will be open to the scientific community in 2017










LMJ/PETAL laser facility: Overview and opportunities for laboratory astrophysics

The advent of high-power lasers facilities such as the National Ignition Facility (NIF), and Laser Megajoule (LMJ) in the near future opens a new era in the field of High Energy Density Laboratory Astrophysics. The LMJ, keystone of the French Simulation Program, is under construction at CEA/CESTA and will deliver 1.5 MJ with 176 beamlines. The first physics experiments on LMJ will be performed at the end of 2014 with 2 quadruplets (8 beams). The operational capabilities (number of beams and plasma diagnostics) will increase gradually during the following years. We describe the current status of the LMJ facility and the first set of diagnostics to be used during the commissioning phase and the first experiments.

The PETAL project (PETawatt Aquitaine Laser), part of the CEA opening policy, consists in the addition of one short-pulse (500 fs to 10 ps) ultra-high-power, high-energy beam (a few kJ compressed energy) to the LMJ facility. PETAL is focalized into the LMJ target chamber and could be used alone or in combination with LMJ beams. In the later case, PETAL will offer a combination of a very high intensity multi-petawatt beam, synchronized with the nanosecond beams of the LMJ. PETAL, which is devoted to the academic research, will also extend the LMJ diagnostic capabilities. Specific diagnostics adapted to PETAL capacities are being fabricated in order to characterize particles and radiation yields that can be created by PETAL. A first set of diagnostics will measure the particles (protons/ions/electrons) spectrum (0.1–200 MeV range) and will also provide point projection proton-radiography capability. LMJ/PETAL, like previously the LIL laser [X. Julien et al., Proc. SPIE 7916 (2011) 791610], will be open to the academic community. Laboratory astrophysics experiments have already been performed on the LIL facility, as for example radiative shock experiments and planetary interiors equation of state measurements.

The Extreme Light Infrastructure (ELI) is a new Research Infrastructure (RI) of pan-European interest and part of the European ESFRI Roadmap. It is a laser facility that aims to host the most intense beamline system worldwide, develop new interdisciplinary research opportunities with light from these lasers and secondary radiation derived from them, and make them available to an international scientific user community. It will be the world’s biggest and first international user facility in beamline and laser research.
The facility will be based on four sites. Three of them are presently being implemented in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania, with an investment volume exceeding €850 million, mostly stemming from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). In Dolní Břežany, near Prague, Czech Republic, the ELI-Beamlines facility will mainly focus on the development of short-pulse secondary sources of radiation and particles. The ELI Attosecond Light Pulse Source (ELI-ALPS) in Szeged, Hungary is establishing a unique facility which provides light sources within an extremely broad frequency range in the form of ultrashort pulses with high repetition rate. In Măgurele, Romania, the ELI Nuclear Physics (ELI-NP) facility will focus on laser-based nuclear physics. The location of ELI’s fourth pillar, the highest-intensity pillar, is still to be decided. Its laser power is expected to exceed that of the current ELI pillars by about one order of magnitude.

The Vulcan 10 PW project
Article · August 2010
The aim of this project is to establish a 10 PW facility on the Vulcan laser system capable of being focussed to intensities of at least 1023 Wcm-2 and integrate this into a flexible and unique user facility This paper will present progress made in Phase one developing the 10PW Front End as well as the concept for the new Vulcan 10 PW facility. The new facility will be configured in a unique way to maximise the scientific opportunities presented through a combination with the existing capabilities already established on Vulcan. This ground breaking development will open up a range of new scientific opportunities.


Central Laser Facility
Rutherford Appleton Laboratory
Oxford, UK

The Vulcan 10 PW project (PDF Download Available). Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/228632296_The_Vulcan_10_PW_project

RUSSIA: 18 May 2010 200MeV electron bunch generated by PEtawatt pARametric Laser (PEARL)
V. Ginzburg; E. V. Katin; E. A. Khazanov; A. V. Kirsanov; V. V. Lozhkarev; G. A. Luchinin; A. N. Mal’shakov; M. A. Martyanov; S. Yu. Mironov; O. V. Palashov; A. K. Poteomkin; A. M. Sergeev; A. A. Shaykin; A. A. Soloviev; M. V. Starodubtsev; I. V. Yakovlev; V. V. Zelenogorsky;

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