NIF achieves record laser energy in pursuit of fusion ignition
Thursday, March 22, 2012 - 11:27am
The NNSA’s National Ignition Facility (NIF) surpassed a critical milestone in its efforts to meet one of modern science's greatest challenges: achieving fusion ignition and energy gain in a laboratory setting.
NIF's 192 lasers fired in perfect unison, delivering a record 1.875 million joules (MJ) of ultraviolet laser light to the facility's target chamber center. This historic laser shot involved a shaped pulse of energy 23 billionths of a second long that generated 411 trillion watts (TW) of peak power (1,000 times more than the United States uses at any instant in time).
The ultraviolet energy produced by NIF (after conversion from the original infrared laser pulse to the final ultraviolet light) was 2.03 MJ before passing through diagnostic instruments and other optics on the way to the target chamber. As a result, NIF is now the world's first 2 MJ ultraviolet laser, generating nearly 100 times more energy than any other laser in operation.