Record energy released from laser fusion experiment

Lawrence Livermore's National Ignition Facility released record energy during an experiment on August 13 that focused all 192 of its laser beams on a tiny deuterium-tritium filled capsule.

The test was conducted to provide insight for the National Nuclear Security Administration's science-based stockpile stewardship program. Conditions during the experiment have not been seen since the days of underground nuclear testing and showed that stockpiles can be kept safe and secure without having to test them.

"In the spirit of what Livermore is good at, this work was born out of the fierce competition of ideas of how to fix the problem, but then coming together as a team to move the best ideas forward," Omar Hurricane, the lead scientist on the experiment, said. "In this particular experiment, we intentionally lowered the goal in order to gain control and learn more about what Mother Nature is doing. The results were remarkably close to simulations and have provided an important tool for understanding and improving performance."

The deuterium-tritium filled capsule imploded and released approximately 8,000 joules of neutron energy, which is three times the previous neutron yield record for cryogenic implosions.

"The yield was significantly greater than the energy deposited in the hot spot by the implosion," Ed Moses, the principle associate director for NIF and Photon Science, said. "This represents an important advance in establishing a self-sustaining burning target, the next critical step on the path to fusion ignition on NIF."