San Diego Silicon Valley
Silicon Valley: Monthly Lunch
Thursday, Feb 18, 2016
12:00 pm - 01:00 pm
Inertial Confinement Fusion Experiments at the National Ignition Facility
with Tammy Ma (BS ’05)
The National Ignition Facility (NIF) at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) is the world’s largest and most energetic laser system. NIF’s 192 beams are configured to create very extreme states of matter, with temperatures exceeding 100 million K and pressures beyond 100 billion atmospheres—conditions emulating those found in the interiors of stars and planets.
Since coming online in 2009, we have made significant progress toward demonstrating laboratory-scale self-sustaining thermonuclear burn by laser inertial fusion. Breakthroughs in recent experiments include demonstrating fuel gains > 1 (more fusion energy generated than delivered to the fuel) and significant alpha heating. In my talk, I will describe the unprecedented experimental capabilities of the NIF, provide an update on our progress, and describe some of the remaining challenges on the path toward achieving fusion ignition.
Successful demonstration of full ignition, with total net energy gain on the NIF, will be a major step towards demonstrating the feasibility of Inertial Fusion Energy as a limitless, carbon-free energy option.
Tammy Ma is an experimental physicist at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), where she now leads a large number of the fusion experiments at the NIF. Ma was responsible for developing an x-ray imaging diagnostic for the NIF and established a methodology for determining hydrodynamic mix and pressure in NIF implosions. She currently heads the X-Ray Analysis Group for the Inertial Confinement Fusion program. Ma has authored or co-authored over 100 peer-reviewed journal publications, and she also takes an active role in many science outreach programs.
Ma earned her BS degree in Engineering and Applied Science, Aeronautics from Caltech in 2005, and received her MS in 2008 and PhD in 2010, both from the University of California, San Diego.