The National Ignition Facility (NIF) is the world's largest laser system. It contains a 192 beam neodymium glass laser that is designed to deliver 1.8 MJ at 500 TW at 351 nm in order to achieve energy gain (ignition) in a deuterium-tritium nuclear fusion target. To meet this goal, laser design criteria include the ability to generate pulses of up to 1.8 MJ total energy, with peak power of 500 TW and temporal pulse shapes spanning 2 orders of magnitude at the third harmonic (351 nm or 3omega) of the laser wavelength. The focal-spot fluence distribution of these pulses is carefully controlled, through a combination of special optics in the 1omega (1053 nm) portion of the laser (continuous phase plates), smoothing by spectral dispersion, and the overlapping of multiple beams with orthogonal polarization (polarization smoothing). We report performance qualification tests of the first eight beams of the NIF laser. Measurements are reported at both 1omega and 3omega, both with and without focal-spot conditioning. When scaled to full 192 beam operation, these results demonstrate, to the best of our knowledge for the first time, that the NIF will meet its laser performance design criteria, and that the NIF can simultaneously meet the temporal pulse shaping, focal-spot conditioning, and peak power requirements for two candidate indirect drive ignition designs.
The National Ignition Facility has been used to compress deuterium-tritium to an average areal density of ~1.0±0.1 g cm(-2), which is 67% of the ignition requirement. These conditions were obtained using 192 laser beams with total energy of 1-1.6 MJ and peak power up to 420 TW to create a hohlraum drive with a shaped power profile, peaking at a soft x-ray radiation temperature of 275-300 eV. This pulse delivered a series of shocks that compressed a capsule containing cryogenic deuterium-tritium to a radius of 25-35 μm. Neutron images of the implosion were used to estimate a fuel density of 500-800 g cm(-3).
The first inertial confinement fusion implosion experiments with equimolar deuterium-tritium thermonuclear fuel have been performed on the National Ignition Facility. These experiments use 0.17 mg of fuel with the potential for ignition and significant fusion yield conditions. The thermonuclear fuel has been fielded as a cryogenic layer on the inside of a spherical plastic capsule that is mounted in the center of a cylindrical gold hohlraum. Heating the hohlraum with 192 laser beams for a total laser energy of 1.6 mega joules produces a soft x-ray field with 300 eV temperature. The ablation pressure produced by the radiation field compresses the initially 2.2-mm diameter capsule by a factor of 30 to a spherical dense fuel shell that surrounds a central hot-spot plasma of 50 µm diameter. While an extensive set of x-ray and neutron diagnostics has been applied to characterize hot spot formation from the x-ray emission and 14.1 MeV deuterium-tritium primary fusion neutrons, thermonuclear fuel assembly is studied by measuring the down-scattered neutrons with energies in the range of 10 to 12 MeV. X-ray and neutron imaging of the compressed core and fuel indicate a fuel thickness of (14 ± 3) µm, which combined with magnetic recoil spectrometer measurements of the fuel areal density of (1 ± 0.09) g cm −2 result in fuel densities approaching 600 g cm −3 . The fuel surrounds a hot-spot plasma with average ion temperatures of (3.5 ± 0.1) keV that is measured with neutron time of flight spectra. Absolute neutron yields of (7.5 ± 0.1) × 10 14 have been recorded from the magnetic recoil spectrometer and nuclear activation diagnostics while gamma ray measurements provide the duration of nuclear activity of (170 ± 30) ps. These indirect-drive implosions result in the highest areal densities and neutron yields achieved on laser facilities to date. This achievement is the result of the first hohlraum and capsule tuning experiments where the stagnation pressures have been systematically increased by more than a factor of 10 by fielding low-entropy implosions through the control of radiation symmetry, small hot electron production, and proper shock timing. The stagnation pressure is above 100 Gbar resulting in high Lawson confinement parameters of P τ 10 atm s. Comparisons with radiation-hydrodynamic simulations indicate that the pressure is within a factor of three required for reaching ignition and high yield. This will be the focus of future higher-velocity implosions that will employ additional optimizations of hohlraum, capsule and laser pulse shape conditions.
scite is a Brooklyn-based startup that helps researchers better discover and understand research articles through Smart Citations–citations that display the context of the citation and describe whether the article provides supporting or contrasting evidence. scite is used by students researchers from around the world and is funded in part by the National Science Foundation and the National Institute on Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health.