Lawrence Livermore Breaks Ground for NIF

Energy Secretary Federico Peña joined Laboratory Director Bruce Tarter and Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher on May 29 to break ground for the National Ignition Facility. Speaking to a gathering of more than 2,000 employees and guests, Peña called NIF "one step closer to a better future" and concluded that "NIF will unleash the power of the heavens to make Earth a better place."
The new $1.2-billion facility will house a 192-beam laser, the world's largest. Through NIF, Lawrence Livermore and other national laboratories will work to achieve fusion energy as well as help assure the safety and reliability of the nuclear stockpile without nuclear testing.
Peña's praise of the Laboratory's scientific achievements was echoed by Tauscher, Tarter, Assistant to the Secretary of Defense Harold Smith, University of California President Richard Atkinson, and Livermore Mayor Cathie Brown.
Smith said that NIF underscores the importance of the collaborations between the national laboratories and the Department of Defense. "NIF marks a creative step toward meeting the needs of national security," he said.
Atkinson pointed out that the nation's universities account for more than a quarter of federally funded research in the nation. Through NIF, he sees even greater collaborations between UC institutions and the national laboratories.
Tauscher called the NIF groundbreaking "a testament to the Lab's hard work." She also believes NIF will be an excellent example of how the national laboratories will work with the private sector to develop an alternative energy source as well as future technologies.
Brown said the City of Livermore was most fortunate to be the home of two unique national laboratories. Calling Lawrence Livermore "a key stakeholder in our community," she thanked the Laboratory's employees for "leadership in science, engineering, national security, environmental quality, education, and job growth."
The National Ignition Facility is scheduled to be completed in 2003.
Contact: LLNL Media Relations (510) 422-4599 (

Lawrence Livermore Wins Seven R&D 100 Awards

When researchers who won coveted R&D 100 awards sit down at the awards banquet in Chicago this month, Lawrence Livermore will be well represented. The Laboratory's seven awards this year match its previous record totals, which were set in 1987 and 1988. Since 1978, the Laboratory has won 68 of these awards, which are considered to be the "Oscars" of the research and development community.
Each year, R&D Magazine honors the top 100 entries to the competition with this prestigious award. Three other Department of Energy national laboratories won awards: Sandia and Oak Ridge each won eight, and Los Alamos won six.
The Lawrence Livermore winners are:
Absolute Interferometer, by a team led by Gary Sommargren of the Laser Programs Directorate. This invention super-accurately measures large surfaces to atomic dimensions (less than a billionth of a meter). This capability, a hundredfold increase over previous technology, will expand the frontiers of the semiconductor and optical manufacturing industries and be invaluable in making tools for metrology.
Contact: Gary Sommargren (510) 423-8599 (
Ultraclean Ion Beam Sputter Deposition System, by a team headed by Stephen Vernon of the Laser Programs Directorate. This system deposits ultralow-defect thin films on substrates, reducing defects by a factor of 100,000. These virtually defect-free films are critical to device fabrication in the $120-billion semiconductor industry and the $100-billion magnetic recording industry. Contact: Stephen Vernon (510) 423-7826 (
Femtosecond Laser Materials Processing, by a team headed by Brent Stuart of the Laser Programs Directorate. This new machining tool uses lasers to machine all materials, regardless of composition (steel, diamond, heart tissue, etc.) with negligible heat and damage to collateral materials. It uses pulses that are of so short a duration that material even within 0.1 micrometers of the machined surface is not damaged. The method enables a new class of high-precision machining, with applications ranging from surgery to demilitarization of chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons components.
Contact: Brent Stuart (510) 424-5782 (
Multiscale Electrodynamics (MELD), by a team headed by Richard Ratowsky from the Physics and Space Technology Directorate. This simulation software is a breakthrough design tool with the potential to revolutionize the design process for opto-electronic devices and packages. MELD can model widely disparate elements, such as semiconductor waveguides, fibers, and lenses, using exactly the right method for each and providing a seamless interface between the elements-all accessed intuitively by a human operator. By reducing fabrication cycles, optimization time, and cost, the software offers the potential to increase the U.S. market share in today's $15-billion annual opto-electronic component market.
Contact: Richard Ratowsky (510) 423-3907 (
Oil Field Tiltmeter, by a team headed by Steven Hunter from the Energy Programs Directorate. This instrument measures minute changes in tilt on two orthogonal axes. An array of these instruments is used to monitor oil well hydrofracture-a technique of cracking rock in an oil field to increase production-and provides valuable information for choosing optimal sites for oil wells. Previous technology could monitor hydrofractures only 6,000 feet deep, but this instrument is capable of monitoring in very expensive wells at least 10,000 feet deep.
Contact: Steven Hunter (510) 423-2219 (
Ultrahigh Gradient Insulator, by a team, headed by Steve Sampayan, whose members come from the Defense and Nuclear Technologies and the Laser Programs directorates. This breakthrough in insulator technology improves the voltage breakdown performance of insulators up to a factor of four, thus opening up possibilities for reducing the size of all high-voltage equipment and developing new types of accelerators that were not possible previously. The new technology should revolutionize linear accelerators and reduce the size and cost of x-ray machines, neutron sources, and plasma radiation sources.
Contact: Ted Wieskamp (510) 422-8612 (
High-Performance Storage Systems, by Oak Ridge National Laboratory working with Lawrence Livermore, Los Alamos, Sandia, and IBM Global Government Industry as participating institutions; Richard Watson of the Computation Directorate is Livermore's primary contact. This new storage system will enable users to store a quintillion bytes (an exabyte), which is more than ten thousand times the capability of today's supercomputing storage systems, to meet the needs of the Department of Energy's Accelerated Strategic Computing Initiative and Stockpile Stewardship and Management Program. New software allows huge capacities and transfer rates by using a network-centered design. Distributing the storage software system and storage devices over a network allows control of the system to be separated from the flow of data. These capabilities allow more rapid data transmission and scalability of performance and capacity, thus removing a bottleneck in data storage, transfer, and retrieval.
Contact: Richard Watson (510) 422-9216 (
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