Stephen Craxton is a Senior Scientist in the Theory Division at LLE. He came to LLE in 1976 after completing his Ph.D. at Imperial College, London, to work on the computer modeling of laser–matter interactions. In 1980, he discovered how to efficiently triple the frequency of high-power lasers, converting their wavelength from the infrared to the ultraviolet to make them more effective for fusion research. His designs were incorporated into the 24- and 60-beam OMEGA Laser Systems and the National Ignition Facility (NIF). He was the first author of a major review of direct drive published in Physics of Plasmas in 2015. Other contributions include editing the Preliminary Design documents for both the 60-beam OMEGA laser and the four-beam OMEGA EP laser and working on the development of techniques to smooth laser beams. He is responsible for the development of the 2-D hydrodynamics/ray-tracing code SAGE, which has been used for the design of numerous experiments. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society.
Dr. Craxton directs the LLE Summer High School Program, a unique educational program in which approximately 15 local students work full time for eight weeks after their junior years on projects related to the LLE program under the guidance of LLE scientists. Dr. Craxton has mentored many high school students, some of whom have become semifinalists and finalists in the Regeneron (formerly Intel) Science Talent Search. He has worked with several of his students using SAGE to develop designs by which direct-drive implosions for a variety of applications can be carried out on the NIF using the indirect-drive phase plates, maximizing drive uniformity and minimizing blowby light.