Exciting news at LLE

August 26, 2021

A burst of energy that lasted 100 trillionths of a second has reverberated far and near– and was especially good news for our scientists at the Laboratory for Laser Energetics. Their colleagues at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory announced last week that an experiment at the National Ignition Facility had generated more than 10 quadrillion watts of fusion power.

This puts researchers at the threshold of fusion ignition, fulfilling a 40-year quest. Perhaps more importantly, it validates the laser-driven implosion techniques that LLNL and LLE have closely collaborated on as a way to assess the viability of the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile and perhaps even pave the way for an abundant supply of clean energy.

“This really clears up a lot of the concern about the ability to ignite thermonuclear fuel in the lab, or that we would need much bigger lasers to do it. This is a major step forward,” says Riccardo Betti, who is LLE’s chief scientist, a professor of mechanical engineering, and a leading expert in the field. Adds LLE Director Michael Campbell: “Research on OMEGA played a critical role in developing the physics and diagnostics that enabled this achievement. We are very proud to be a member of this community and look forward to even greater fusion performance in the future.” Read more.

Speaking of LLE, Chris Deeney will become deputy director beginning August 30. Chris previously served as chief science and technology officer, National Security Directorate, at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), in addition to his years of experience at the Nevada National Security Site, the US Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), and the Sandia National Laboratories. Chris is known as a scientific and innovation leader with direct experience running complex operations. In addition, he has an insider’s knowledge of the federal system, which oversees the LLE’s funding. Welcome aboard, Chris! Read more.