LLE–CEA: Ten Years of French–American Collaboration at the Omega Laser FacilitySeptember, 2010
If science and society are best served by cooperation and collaboration, the results from using the OMEGA Laser have demonstrated remarkable success during the past ten years, leading to fruitful interactions between the French Commissariat à l’Énergie Atomique et aux Énergies Alternatives (CEA) – Atomic and Alternative Energies Commission, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). The U.S.–French collaboration in the field of experimental laser–matter interaction physics reaches back more than 20 years with the first shots on the Nova Laser at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), and the Phebus laser at the Limeil–Valenton CEA Centre in France. Experiments on Nova, in close cooperation with LLNL and Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), produced results that contributed to showing that ignition was feasible in megajoule-class lasers and, therefore, the National Ignition Facility (NIF) and the Megajoule Laser (LMJ) programs could begin.
With NIF and LMJ in preparation, the shutdown of Phebus and Nova in 1999 raised the issue of maintaining competent teams and facilities aimed at studying the design of future targets to reach ignition. In the U.S., the response was to use the Omega Laser Facility. DOE decided to continue its collaboration with CEA beyond the planned shutdown of Nova through joint experiments at the Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE).
Since the first shot on OMEGA over a decade ago, more than 500 successful joint laser shots have been performed, thanks to the use of resources specific to CEA (targets, diagnostics, and principal investigators) and LLE teams. The CEA Experimental Program at LLE has extended the topics started on Nova, such as laser-plasma interaction, x-ray conversion, implosion symmetry, and hydrodynamic instabilities. The first experiments were performed with U.S. targets and diagnostics, making it possible for CEA, after the closing of Phebus, to continue to train their teams in target fabrication, validation of diagnostics, and the control of experiments at a large laser facility.