The Mercury Laser Advances Laser Technology for Power Generation

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The National Ignition Facility (NIF) at Lawrence Livermore Laboratory is on target to demonstrate 'breakeven' - creating as much fusion-energy output as laser-energy input. NIF will compress a tiny sphere of hydrogen isotopes with 1.8 MJ of laser light in a 20-ns pulse, packing the isotopes so tightly that they fuse together, producing helium nuclei and releasing energy in the form of energetic particles. The achievement of breakeven will culminate an enormous effort by thousands of scientists and engineers, not only at Livermore but around the world, during the past several decades. But what about the day after NIF achieves ... continued below

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Ebbers, C A; Caird, J & Moses, E January 21, 2009.

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The National Ignition Facility (NIF) at Lawrence Livermore Laboratory is on target to demonstrate 'breakeven' - creating as much fusion-energy output as laser-energy input. NIF will compress a tiny sphere of hydrogen isotopes with 1.8 MJ of laser light in a 20-ns pulse, packing the isotopes so tightly that they fuse together, producing helium nuclei and releasing energy in the form of energetic particles. The achievement of breakeven will culminate an enormous effort by thousands of scientists and engineers, not only at Livermore but around the world, during the past several decades. But what about the day after NIF achieves breakeven? NIF is a world-class engineering research facility, but if laser fusion is ever to generate power for civilian consumption, the laser will have to deliver pulses nearly 100,000 times faster than NIF - a rate of perhaps 10 shots per second as opposed to NIF's several shots a day. The Mercury laser (named after the Roman messenger god) is intended to lead the way to a 10-shots-per-second, electrically-efficient, driver laser for commercial laser fusion. While the Mercury laser will generate only a small fraction of the peak power of NIF (1/30,000), Mercury operates at higher average power. The design of Mercury takes full advantage of the technology advances manifest in its behemoth cousin (Table 1). One significant difference is that, unlike the flashlamp-pumped NIF, Mercury is pumped by highly efficient laser diodes. Mercury is a prototype laser capable of scaling in aperture and energy to a NIF-like beamline, with greater electrical efficiency, while still running at a repetition rate 100,000 times greater.

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PDF-file: 9 pages; size: 0.4 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-410232
  • Grant Number: W-7405-ENG-48
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 1019071
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc842057

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

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  • January 21, 2009

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  • 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; Caird, J & Moses, E. The Mercury Laser Advances Laser Technology for Power Generation, article, January 21, 2009; Livermore, California. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc842057/: accessed January 22, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.