Abstract

The National Ignition Facility (NIF) is the world’s largest optical instrument, comprising 192 37cm square beams, each generating up to 9.6kJ of 351nm laser light in a 20ns beam precisely tailored in time and spectrum. The Facility houses a massive (10m diameter) target chamber within which the beams converge onto an 1cm size target for the purpose of creating the conditions needed for deuterium/tritium nuclear fusion in a laboratory setting. A formidable challenge was building NIF to the precise requirements for beam propagation, commissioning the beam lines, and engineering systems to reliably and safely align 192 beams within the confines of a multihour shot cycle. Designing the facility to minimize drift and vibration, placing the optical components in their design locations, commissioning beam alignment, and performing precise system alignment are the key alignment accomplishments over the decade of work described herein. The design and positioning phases placed more than 3000 large (2.5m×2m×1m) line-replaceable optics assemblies to within ±1mm of design requirement. The commissioning and alignment phases validated clear apertures (no clipping) for all beam lines, and demonstrated automated laser alignment within 10min and alignment to target chamber center within 44min. Pointing validation system shots to flat gold-plated x-ray emitting targets showed NIF met its design requirement of ±50μm rms beam pointing to target chamber. Finally, this paper describes the major alignment challenges faced by the NIF Project from inception to present, and how these challenges were met and solved by the NIF design and commissioning teams.

© 2011 Optical Society of America

Full Article  |  PDF Article

References

You do not have subscription access to this journal. Citation lists with outbound citation links are available to subscribers only. You may subscribe either as an OSA member, or as an authorized user of your institution.

Contact your librarian or system administrator
or
Login to access OSA Member Subscription

Cited By

You do not have subscription access to this journal. Cited by links are available to subscribers only. You may subscribe either as an OSA member, or as an authorized user of your institution.

Contact your librarian or system administrator
or
Login to access OSA Member Subscription

Figures (22)

You do not have subscription access to this journal. Figure files are available to subscribers only. You may subscribe either as an OSA member, or as an authorized user of your institution.

Contact your librarian or system administrator
or
Login to access OSA Member Subscription

Equations (3)

You do not have subscription access to this journal. Equations are available to subscribers only. You may subscribe either as an OSA member, or as an authorized user of your institution.

Contact your librarian or system administrator
or
Login to access OSA Member Subscription

Metrics

You do not have subscription access to this journal. Article level metrics are available to subscribers only. You may subscribe either as an OSA member, or as an authorized user of your institution.

Contact your librarian or system administrator
or
Login to access OSA Member Subscription