Russia, China building large lasers.


Russia has launched a $1.5 billion project to create a high-energy superiaser site, which designers pledge will be the best in the world. Capable of igniting nuclear fusion, the facility will be used both for thermonuclear weapon and for inertial confinement fusion (ICF) studies. The laser facility will be developed by the Research Institute of Experimental Physics (RFNC-VNIIEF), a leading Russian nuclear laboratory. In its six decades of history, it was involved in the development of both the military and civilian nuclear programs in Russia.

The site will have the size of a 360-meter long 10 story building and be built near the Sarov technology park in Nizhny Novgorod region in central Russia, said the institute's head of research, Radiy Ilkaev, who said it will be a dual-purpose device." On the one hand, there is the defense component, because high energy density plasma physics can be productively studied on such devices. It's necessary for developing thermonuclear weapons. On the other hand, there is the power industry component. The world's leading physicists believe that laser nuclear fusion can be useful for future energetics," the scientist said.

The Russian device will be similar to the American National Ignition Facility (NIF) and the French Laser Megajoule (LMJ) in terms of capability. The NIF is currently online. The French counterpart is due to be launched in 2012. The Russian facility may be ready in a decade, Ilkaev estimates. Ilkaev says the future Russian facility will be able to deliver 2.8 megajoules of energy to its target, as compared to energy levels of about 1.8 megajoules for the American and French lasers. "We are making our device later than they did, because such projects. are costly, hut ours will he the best in the world," the scientist promised.

This Russian Laser Fusion System will be the fourth in the series of international facilities of megajoule-class Lasers for ICF and High Energy Density Science. They are NIF in the United States, LMJ (Laser MegaJoule) in France, Divine Light 4 in China and the Russian system.

While NIF is now operational and doing experiments, these other facilities plan to be operational later in this decade. They closely resemble the NIF architecture (indirect drive fusion) and can be used for a variety of applications for strategic, energy and basic science missions. Like NIF, each is designed to do fusion bum experiments. These four megajoule-class lasers are supplemented by significant mid-capability...

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