National Laser Users’ Facility

LLE has provided qualified researchers with a unique environment for experiments in high-energy-density physics (HEDP) and inertial confinement fusion (ICF) through access to the National Laser Users’ Facility (NLUF) since 1979. The Office of Experimental Sciences of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) within the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) funds the operations of LLE and specifically, of NLUF, thus making it possible for users to conduct experiments without a direct facility charge. As the major sponsor for HEDP, DOE provides research funds through merit-based solicitations directly to researchers in HEDP, inertial fusion, and related scientific areas. HEDP funding opportunities are also available to researchers through the National Science Foundation, Department of Defense, and other sponsors. Applications for such research grants are separate from the NLUF facility-access proposals.

The objective of the NLUF program is to provide access to the Omega Laser Facility to a broad community of academic and industrial research interests to (1) conduct basic research in laser–matter interaction, ICF, and HEDP; and (2) provide research experience necessary to maintain a cadre of trained scientists to meet the nation’s future needs in these areas of science and technology.

Research supported by the NLUF Program covers a range of fundamental HED plasma physics including, but not limited to, laboratory astrophysics, materials under extreme conditions, magnetized plasmas, nonlinear optics of plasma and laser–plasma interactions, high-field science and intense beam physics, warm dense matter, x-ray laser physics, atomic physics, nuclear physics, and instrumentation development.

NLUF is administered by a full-time manager, who reports to the LLE Director. User experiments are selected through a biennial NLUF call for proposal process. Proposals are reviewed and ranked according to their scientific merit, executability, and broad impact by an independent proposal review panel (PRP) consisting of 10 to 15 subject matter experts from universities, industry, and government laboratories.

Researchers from U.S. universities and other institutions of higher education, private-sector organizations (both for profit and non-profit) can participate in the NLUF program as leads. Other entities including DOE national labs, LLE, and international institutions can participate as collaborators. [Note: researchers from the DOE labs and LLE can participate in another NNSA-supported and merit-based program as leads to conduct Laboratory Basic Science (LBS) experiments at the Omega Laser Facility with the projects selected through an annual call for proposal and review process, which is also administered by the NLUF Manager. Additional facility access for qualified external researchers is made possible through LLE’s participation in LaserNetUS supported by the DOE Office of Fusion Energy Sciences.]

Principal investigators (PI’s) of the NLUF projects must comply with PI requirements as described in the Omega Laser Facility Organization and Regulation Manual (LFORM) Instruction 3000.

Research findings from the NLUF experiments are expected to be broadly disseminated, including journal publications. NLUF users must acknowledge the Omega Laser Facility in presentations and publications using the template: “The experiment was conducted at the Omega Laser Facility at the University of Rochester’s Laboratory for Laser Energetics with the beam time through the National Laser Users’ Facility (NLUF) Program supported by DOE/NNSA.”

2023 Awarded FY24–25 NLUF Projects

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