LLE Annual Report


Annual Report 2005

The fiscal year ending in September 2005 concluded the third year of the second five-year renewal of the Cooperative Agreement DE-FC52-92SF19460 with the Department of Energy. This report summarizes research at the University of Rochester’s Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE) conducted during the past fiscal year, operation of the National Laser Users’ Facility (NLUF), a status report of the new OMEGA Extended Performance (EP) laser project, and programs concerning the education of high school, undergraduate, and graduate students during this year.

The focus of the LLE research program is laser fusion. Progress was made in laser fusion in five major categories: (1) direct-drive results from OMEGA; (2) progress in the development of the cryogenic target system and experiments with cryogenic targets; (3) results for polar direct drive (the application of nonspherically disposed laser beams for direct-drive, spherically, symmetrically driven systems), which is of interest for the National Ignition Facility (NIF); (4) fast ignition, which uses short-pulse (<100 ps), high-intensity (~ 1015-W) laser beams to ignite a compressed thermonuclear fusion capsule; and (5) high-energy-density physics results that use inertial fusion facilities to produce matter in extreme states that are central to understanding and modeling nuclear weapons phenomena important to the National Stockpile Stewardship Program.

This report also includes a summary of advanced technology development efforts carried out during this year in six areas: (1) understanding of the damage processes of thin-film coatings subjected to intense UV irradiation; (2) optimization of the polishing performance of magnetorheological (MR) fluids; (3) the design and testing of a high-resolution UV spectrometer used to check the tuning status of KDP tripling crystals; (4) research on the quantum efficiency (QE) and noise equivalent power (NEP) of the latest-generation, nanostructured NbN, superconducting, single-photon detectors (SSPD’s) operated at temperatures in the 2.0- to 4.2-K range and in the 0.5- to 5.6-μm wavelength range; (5) the development and testing of an all-solid-state, diode-pumped Nd:YLF laser system to be used as a timing reference on the OMEGA facility; and (6) the development of various tritium-capture technologies.

The OMEGA EP project continued on a fast-track schedule to complete two short-pulse beams and the scope was increased in FY05 to include two additional long-pulse beams. Congressional funding in FY06 has allowed the full four-beam project to proceed. The full OMEGA EP “total estimated” cost is $89 million, of which $87 million has been appropriated through FY06. The building constructed to house OMEGA EP equipment was completed in February 2005 at a cost of $21 million. This building was funded by the University of Rochester and its completion enabled the start of the laser’s assembly.

The OMEGA facility produced 1461 target shots in FY05 for LLE, NLUF, national laboratories, and other external users. LLE usage accounted for less than 50% of the total target shots. The NLUF program included experiments by teams from the University of Michigan, MIT, University of California-Berkeley, University of Nevada-Reno, University of Washington, Rice University, and the University of California-Davis.

As the only major university participant in the National ICF Program, education continues to be an important mission of LLE. One hundred seventy-seven University of Rochester students have earned Ph.D. degrees at LLE since its founding. In addition, the NLUF program annually funds ~10 to 30 graduate and undergraduate students.

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