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High-energy solid-state lasers have been shown to be useful for studying the plasma physics of fusion, the national objectives of stockpile stewardship, and possibly future energy production. Solid-state lasers based on flashlamp pump sources will achieve ignition and explore weapons issues during the beginning of the next century. Diode-pumped solid-state lasers represent a next step, should it be in the national interest to continue to pursue laser fusion after startup and operation of the National Ignition Facility. In addition to offering us a pathway to future inertial fusion studies and stockpile stewardship applications near-term uses for advanced high-repetition-rate lasers also abound. Our small-scale experiments at Lawrence Livermore attest to the scientific viability of diode-pumped solid-state lasers for fusion, as do the synergistic laser development efforts in support of numerous military, governmental, and civilian applications.
The most abundant element in the universe, hydrogen plays a significant role in our defense and laser fusion programs. As a result, we have a continuing interest in better understanding hydrogen's behavior at high temperature and pressure. Recently we succeeded in achieving a long-sought goal of high-pressure physics-converting hydrogen to a metal. The prediction that hydrogen would turn metallic at extremely high pressures was first theorized in 1935, but tangible evidence eluded scientists during the intervening decades. We approached metallization differently than others, applying a series of relatively weak shock compressions to targets of liquid, rather than solid, hydrogen.
and LLNL Disclaimers