Top NNSA Official Tours Omega Laser Facility, Highlights Accomplishments in NNSA-Sponsored High Energy Density Physics Research

Press Release
Nov 10, 2009

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A top official with the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) today visited the Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE) at the University of Rochester in New York, a premier high energy density physics research facility and key asset for the NNSA's stockpile stewardship mission.

Brig. Gen. Garrett Harencak, NNSA principal assistant deputy administrator for military application, toured the Omega Laser Facility less than one week after researchers highlighted recent advances in NNSA-sponsored high energy density physics research at the 51st Annual Meeting of the American Physical Society, Division of Plasma Physics (APS/DPP) in Atlanta last week.

"The Laboratory for Laser Energetics is a world leader in fusion research, and their team continues to make valuable contributions to NNSA's mission and the security of our nation," said Gen. Harencak. "NNSA is very proud of the Omega Laser at the LLE, and we are fortunate to engage with dedicated professionals working to promote NNSA's nuclear security agenda."

The Omega laser system is used to generate extreme temperatures and pressures in various materials. The facility includes the original Omega laser – which has been in operation since 1995 – and Omega EP, or extended performance laser, which came online in 2008. The two lasers can be used individually or else together to provide a more detailed x-ray image of a particular experiment.

In concert with the NNSA's Z machine at Sandia National Laboratories, the National Ignition Facility at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and other scientific and computing capabilities, Omega helps NNSA scientists to maintain a safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent without underground testing. Together, these tools will help experts evaluate key scientific assumptions in current computer models, obtain previously unavailable data on how materials behave at temperatures and pressures like those in the center of a star, and help validate NNSA's supercomputer simulations by comparing code predictions against observations from laboratory experiments.

Last week, scientists from NNSA laboratories and the University of Rochester presented new data during the APS meeting.  Scientists presented results showing that LLE had achieved the highest fusion capsule compression to date. 

Photos from General Harencak's tour of LLE will be available today at the NNSA News Flickr page.  Visit www.nnsa.energy.gov for more information.

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Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a semi-autonomous agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science in the nation's national security enterprise. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability, and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; reduces the global danger from weapons of mass destruction; provides the U.S. Navy with safe and effective nuclear propulsion; and responds to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the U.S. and abroad.

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