Lasers have ignited a mini star on earth, laying the foundation for a clean energy source of the future: A historical breakthrough in inertial confinement fusion research at the National Ignition Facility at Lawrence Livermore National Lab and a defining moment for Photonics!
One of the most promising applications of laser technology, the realization of laser-driven fusion, has achieved a historical breakthrough. As announced by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL, California, USA) in its press release dated December 13, 2022, American scientists at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) were able to release a fusion energy of 3.15 megajoules (MJ) from a pellet filled with the hydrogen isotopes deuterium and tritium. This is equivalent to 154 percent of the expended energy equivalent to 2.05 MJ of the laser pulse that triggered the explosion. This net energy gain represents the first internationally long-awaited breakthrough in fusion research. These results will provide unprecedented capability to support US Department of Energy’s High Energy Density Physics mission and established the physics platform to generate an efficient energy source comparable to the sun, making it a viable long-term complement to renewable energy.