Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

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DOE Awards $18 Million to LaserNetUS Consortium

LaserNetUS, a network of facilities operating ultra-powerful lasers, including the Jupiter Laser Facility at Lawrence Livermore, has received $18 million from the Department of Energy (DOE) for user support. Established in 2018 by DOE, LaserNetUS is organized and funded by DOE’s Office of Fusion Energy Sciences. The network was created to provide vastly improved access to unique lasers for researchers and to help restore the United States’ once-dominant position in high-intensity laser research. This new funding, distributed among 10 partner institutions and including $1 million for user support, will continue and expand LaserNetUS operations for three years. 

LaserNetUS includes the most powerful high-intensity lasers in the United States and Canada, which have a broad range of applications in basic research, advanced manufacturing, and medicine. Some of these lasers have powers approaching or exceeding a petawatt, generating light with nearly 100 times the combined output of all the world’s power plants compressed into a tenth of a trillionth of a second. 

In its first year of user operations, LaserNetUS awarded beamtime for 49 user experiments to researchers from 25 different institutions. More than 200 user scientists, including more than 100 students and postdoctorates, have participated in experiments so far. The network and future upgrades to LaserNetUS facilities will provide new opportunities for U.S. and international scientists in discovery science and in the development of new technologies.
Contact: Robert Cauble (925) 422-4724 (

Giant Lasers Reveal Rocky Exoplanet Interiors

The increasing number of large rocky exoplanet discoveries, consisting of a variety of sizes, masses, and orbits, intensifies the need to study their material properties, to provide a deeper understanding of the universe and the potential habitability of exoplanets. In a study, published in the February 11, 2021, issue of Nature Geoscience, a Livermore team led by physicist, Federica Coppari, forced a sample of iron oxide (FeO), a material found in Earth’s mantle, to extreme pressures and temperatures, replicating the conditions expected inside large rocky exoplanets.

The team used giant lasers at the University of Rochester’s Omega Laser Facility to compress an FeO sample to 7 megabars (1 Mbar equals 1 million times the Earth’s atmospheric pressure), pressure equivalent to the deep mantle of an exoplanet five times more massive than Earth. Additional lasers then blasted a metal foil near the FeO to create a brief pulse of x rays bright enough to capture a diffraction snapshot of the compressed sample. When FeO is compressed beyond 3 Mbars, equal to the pressure of Earth’s inner-core, the atoms rearrange into a closely packed structure, transforming the sample’s properties.

“Extreme conditions found within large rocky super-Earths favor the emergence of new and complex mineralogy where the constituent materials mix/unmix, flow, and deform in completely different ways than in Earth’s mantle,” says Coppari. “It is mind-boggling to think that our experiments can peer into the interior structure of planets far away with unprecedented resolution and contribute to a deeper understanding of the universe.”
Contact: Federica Coppari (925) 424-5672 (

Ruby Does the Math for COVID-19 Research

Lawrence Livermore, along with partners Intel, Supermicro, and Cornelis Networks, have deployed “Ruby,” a high-performance computing cluster. Ruby is funded by National Nuclear Security Administration’s Advanced Simulation and Computing program, the Laboratory’s Multi-programmatic and Institutional Computing program, and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (2020).

Ranked 79th among the 100 most powerful supercomputers in the world in the November 2020 biannual Top500 list, the 6-petaFLOP-peak cluster will be used for unclassified programmatic work in support of NNSA’s stockpile stewardship mission, as well as for open science at the Laboratory, and in the fight against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Early applications for Ruby include large-scale simulating of plasma dynamics and neutron production at Livermore’s MegaJOuLe Neutron Imaging Radiography (MJOLNIR) system, and simulating inertial confinement fusion research conducted at the National Ignition Facility and Sandia National Laboratories’ Z machine. In addition, Ruby will support projects selected through Livermore’s Computing Grand Challenge and Laboratory Directed Research and Development programs.

Livermore COVID-19 researchers have been using Ruby to compute the molecular docking calculations needed for discovering small molecules capable of binding to protein sites in the structure of SARS-CoV-2 for drug discovery purposes. Ruby is a liquid-cooled cluster consisting of more than 1,500 nodes, each outfitted with Intel Xeon Platinum 8276L processors with Intel Deep Learning Boost and 192 gigabytes of memory.
Contact: Chris Clouse (925) 422-4576 (