Lasers and Optical Science and Technology

Livermore researchers have designed, built, and operated a family of increasingly complex laser facilities that have successively broken world records in laser energy, power, and brightness. The Laboratory has longstanding expertise in systems engineering and laser construction and operations, which are complemented by international leadership in photonics science and technology, laser-material interactions, and laser system simulations. A principal focus is high-energy and high-average-power laser technology; Livermore scientists designed, built, and shipped in 2017 to the European Union the world’s highest average power petawatt laser.

In support of stockpile stewardship, the National Ignition Facility (NIF), the world’s largest and most energetic laser, is proving an invaluable tool for exploring high-energy-density regimes not accessible by other experimental facilities. NIF experiments provide key insights and data for simulation codes used in weapon performance assessments and effects. Discovery Science experiments are exploring the nature of the universe, and other NIF experiments are meeting wider national security needs.

Our laser technologies are also finding many industrial applications that strengthen U.S. economic security. These technologies include laser melting, precise material removal, precision heat treatment, mechanical strengthening such as laser peening, and heat-resistant optics.

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