The Mercury Laser System-A scaleable average-power laser for fusion and beyond

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Nestled in a valley between the whitecaps of the Pacific and the snowcapped crests of the Sierra Nevada, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) is home to the nearly complete National Ignition Facility (NIF). The purpose of NIF is to create a miniature star-on demand. An enormous amount of laser light energy (1.8 MJ in a pulse that is 20 ns in duration) will be focused into a small gold cylinder approximately the size of a pencil eraser. Centered in the gold cylinder (or hohlraum) will be a nearly perfect sphere filled with a complex mixture of hydrogen gas isotopes that ... continued below

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PDF-file: 13 pages; size: 0.6 Mbytes

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Ebbers, C A & Moses, E I March 26, 2008.

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Nestled in a valley between the whitecaps of the Pacific and the snowcapped crests of the Sierra Nevada, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) is home to the nearly complete National Ignition Facility (NIF). The purpose of NIF is to create a miniature star-on demand. An enormous amount of laser light energy (1.8 MJ in a pulse that is 20 ns in duration) will be focused into a small gold cylinder approximately the size of a pencil eraser. Centered in the gold cylinder (or hohlraum) will be a nearly perfect sphere filled with a complex mixture of hydrogen gas isotopes that is similar to the atmosphere of our Sun. During experiments, the laser light will hit the inside of the gold cylinder, heating the metal until it emits X-rays (similar to how your electric stove coil emits visible red light when heated). The X-rays will be used to compress the hydrogen-like gas with such pressure that the gas atoms will combine or 'fuse' together, producing the next heavier element (helium) and releasing energy in the form of energetic particles. 2010 will mark the first credible attempt at this world-changing event: the achievement of fusion energy 'break-even' on Earth using NIF, the world's largest laser! NIF is anticipated to eventually perform this immense technological accomplishment once per week, with the capability of firing up to six shots per day - eliminating the need for continued underground testing of our nation's nuclear stockpile, in addition to opening up new realms of science. But what about the day after NIF achieves ignition? Although NIF will achieve fusion energy break-even and gain, the facility is not designed to harness the enormous potential of fusion for energy generation. A fusion power plant, as opposed to a world-class engineering research facility, would require that the laser deliver drive pulses nearly 100,000 times more frequently - a rate closer to 10 shots per second as opposed to several shots per day.

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PDF-file: 13 pages; size: 0.6 Mbytes

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  • Journal Name: Laser Focus World, vol. 45, no. 3, March 1, 2009, NA; Journal Volume: 45; Journal Issue: 3

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  • Report No.: LLNL-JRNL-402612
  • Grant Number: W-7405-ENG-48
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 1019069
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc841474

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Office of Scientific & Technical Information Technical Reports

Reports, articles and other documents harvested from the Office of Scientific and Technical Information.

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  • March 26, 2008

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • May 19, 2016, 3:16 p.m.

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  • Dec. 6, 2016, 1:17 p.m.

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Ebbers, C A & Moses, E I. The Mercury Laser System-A scaleable average-power laser for fusion and beyond, article, March 26, 2008; Livermore, California. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc841474/: accessed July 18, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.