This is how the world’s most powerful laser can simulate a planet’s core

What else can this mighty laser do?
Loukia Papadopoulos

The National Ignition Facility (NIF) is no doubt an exceptional structure as it is about 100 feet tall and the size of three football fields. So what exactly does it hold? A laser-based inertial confinement fusion (ICF) research device.

Located at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, California, the NIF's mission is to achieve fusion ignition with high energy gain. It also aims to explore the behavior of matter under the conditions found within nuclear explosions.

Perhaps what makes it most notable, however, is that it's the largest and most powerful ICF device built to date, and it hosts the world's most energetic laser. It was such an ambitious project that its construction began in 1997 and was only finally completed in 2009.

It also cost about four times its original expected budget. But it all seemed worth it in November 2020, when NIF researchers claimed they were close to reaching productive nuclear fusion after decades of experiments and challenges.

What was the result of this experiment? How can this laser simulate a planet’s core? What advancements have come about from its use? Which experiments is it more commonly used for? What upgrades and developments have been made to its operation since 2009? How does it compare to other high-powered lasers?

This video answers all these questions and more.

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