Three football fields could fit inside the NIF Laser and Target Area Building. Photo: NIF
Lasers, is there anything they can’t do? If they’re not shooting down UAVs, they’re fighting AIDS or bringing us the next generation of HDTVs. That’s all well and good, but when it comes to lasers there’s none bigger than the National Ignition Facility (NIF) at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) in California - an instrument capable of delivering 500 trillion watts of power in a 20-nanosecond burst which is now nearing completion. Its myriad uses will include providing fusion data for nuclear weapons simulations, probing the secrets of extrasolar planets and could even lead to the holy grail of energy production - practical fusion energy.