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IDEX Optical Technologies Helps U.S. Scientists Achieve First-Ever Fusion Ignition

Published December 15, 2022

For decades, physicists have strived to harness nuclear fusion – the power source of the stars – to create an abundance of clean energy. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and its National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) announced it had achieved fusion ignition at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). For the first time, a fusion reactor produced more energy than was used to trigger the reaction, known as “scientific energy breakeven.”

This momentous scientific milestone occurred with significant technological support from our teams here at IDEX Optical Technologies. We supplied LLNL components for more than 20 years to support the National Ignition Facility (NIF) program.

The IDEX Optical Technologies components include windows, mirrors, lenses, and other small optics that are uniquely capable of handling the extremely high pulse powers of the seed laser used. Our optics were used to condition, shape, and steer the seed laser beams, making fusion possible.

Additionally, we supplied customized larger optics that supported various metrology tools that were used to study the fluence of the final laser at the hohlraum (ignition capsule), improving the state-of-the-art understanding of high-energy plasma physics.

We were able to use the capabilities and manufacturing processes developed in the course of supporting NIF in order to improve the products and services we offer to a variety of industries, including semiconductor metrology and inspection, medical lasers, and remote sensing.

We are focused on the future to enable brilliant solutions for our customers.