LLE's Future Funding Challenge

From the Director


14 March 2018


To Staff, Students, and Colleagues:


Thank you for the support all of you have given to LLE. It is difficult to imagine that after five decades of contributions to the ICF and high-energy-density programs, committed service to the National Laser Users' Facility community, and more than 500 graduate students later from the University of Rochester and other great universities, that the Laboratory has been targeted for complete shutdown. The President's budget is forcing the Department of Energy to close the Laboratory by 2021.


For years OMEGA and OMEGA-EP have provided wonderful research opportunities for our community. For years we have all done it successfully. If this research is to continue, we must all come together as a community and ask Congress to re-establish full funding for LLE and for the Inertial Confinement Fusion Program so we can support this research for years to come. Please consider signing the petition at Change.org.


Again, my thanks to ALL of you for supporting the entire national program and the Laboratory for Laser Energetics.



Mike Campbell


LLE is a Unique National Resource


Points to consider are :

  • The inertial fusion program is critical to national security both for the contribution to the Stockpile Stewardship Program and maintaining U.S. leadership in this important area of science including fusion (ICF), plasma physics, high-energy-density science (HEDS), high-power lasers and pulse power.
  • This program attracts, trains and tests scientists (both theoretical and experimental) that contribute to a wide range of topics important for national security and the U.S. economy.
  • The U.S. is presently the world leader in this field and the President’s budget will do irreparable harm and result in the surrender of our leadership in this important field of science and technology (Russia and China have are aggressively pursuing research and capabilities in ICF and HEDS).
  • The PBR effectively eliminates academic research in the field of HEDS, cutting off the pipeline of trained students that enter our national security laboratories. The ~$100M cut in the ICF budget in addition to the impact at LLE and other institutions, eliminates support for academic research in HEDS, and ends the National Laser Users’ Program that provides hundreds of experiments to academic scientists and students.
  • LLE operates an efficient, productive state-of-the-art laser facility that is a model for user facilities across the U.S. and around the world. LLE has continued to upgrade the Omega facilities since their construction—the lasers are modern, flexible, and have over 200 diagnostics available for scientists.
  • Closing LLE impacts the ~350 scientists, engineers, technicians, and administrators working at LLE today. The salaries and benefits are ~$60M/year with much of the spending occurring in the local region.
  • LLE administers the National Laser Users’ Facility (NLUF) that was developed specifically to provide research opportunities for scientists from over 40 universities including MIT, Princeton, Rice, University of California, University of Nevada, University of Michigan, SUNY Geneseo and many more. Many of these students have gone on to careers in national security. The PBR eliminates NLUF.
  • Since the founding of LLE, more than 500 students from the University of Rochester and other major universities have obtained their doctorates based on research at LLE.
  • There are ~140 students (100 graduate and ~40 undergraduate) students presently conducting research at LLE. These students are both from Rochester and other universities. The research would be terminated in the PBR.
  • LLE spends >$8M/year to purchase high-technology equipment from the local region and nationwide.
  • In addition to Academia, Researchers from all over the world depend on LLE facilities to conduct their research:
    • Scientists from the NNSA laboratories (LLNL, LANL, SNL) and NRL conduct over 800 experiments/year on LLE facilities.
    • Scientists from laboratories abroad (France (i.e. CEA, University of Bordeaux), England (AWE, Imperial College, Rutherford, Oxford, University of York) collaborate with LLE scientists and engineers and conduct research on the Omega facilities on ICF/HEDS science and new measurement technologies.
  • Many industries have been founded and inspired by research at LLE. These include QED, Sydor Technologies and Lucid. LLE also partners with companies such as Corning, Optimax, and Plymouth Gratings to develop new capabilities and technology that push the forefront of optics manufacturing.
  • LLE is a world-renowned center for high-power laser research and advanced optical technologies such as high-performance optical coatings. LLE provides coated optics for the National Ignition Facility (NIF), the Laser MegaJoule (LMJ) laser in France and the Extreme Light Infrastructure (ELI) in Europe. Recognizing the quality of the work done at LLE, the CEA, the French Center for Nuclear Weapon Research, recently provided LLE with an advanced coater for large aperture optics. LLE also recently designed, constructed, tested, and shipped a state-of-the-art laser to a NNSA sponsored research area at the Advanced Light Source located at Argonne National Laboratory.
  • The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) recently published a report recommending that the U.S. invest in high-power lasers, a field that was once dominated by the U.S. (the technology was invented at LLE) and is now being challenged by Europe and Asia (China). The closure of LLE would eliminate one of the two centers in the U.S. (the other being LLNL) for this science and technology.