The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is home to the world’s largest laser system, the National Ignition Facility (NIF). The NIF with its 192 beam lines and over 40,000 optics has been an engine of innovation for lasers and optics technologies for the last couple of decades. The Lasers and Optics intellectual property portfolio is the culmination of the many groundbreaking developments in high energy, high peak power and ultrashort pulse laser system design and operation, including technologies related to Laser Diodes, Fiber & Disk Lasers, Compact Telescopes, High Damage Threshold Gratings, High Power Optical Components and their Fabrication and Coating Techniques. The thrust of the research and development at the NIF has been to realize novel approaches for laser systems, optical components and their applications that are more compact and higher efficiency while reliably delivering ever higher energy and peak power capabilities required in the furtherance of LLNL’s missions in Stockpile Stewardship and High Energy Density Science.

Portfolio News and Multimedia

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Livermore researchers collect three awards among the top 100 industrial inventions

R&D World Magazine recently announced their 2022 award winners. LLNL researchers received three awards, which include Tailored Glass by Direct Ink Writing, novel compression gratings that enable a new class of high-energy laser systems and a 3D printing feedstock known as Energy Inks that can print a functioning battery.

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NASA funds LLNL to demonstrate 'replicator' 3D printer to produce cartilage in space

NASA's funding will enable LLNL and Kentucky-based space life sciences company, Space Tango to mature prototypes of the “replicator” technology — a ultrafast 3D printer co-developed by LLNL and the University of California, Berkeley — for bioprinting in microgravity on the International Space Station.

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New laser-based volumetric additive manufacturing method can 3D print glass in seconds

Researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the University of California, Berkeley have demonstrated the ability to 3D-print microscopic objects in silica glass, part of an effort to produce delicate, layer-less optics that can be built in seconds

Lasers and Optics Technologies

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Livermore Lab researchers have developed a new EUV target design that replaces liquid tin droplets with tin microbeads embedded in a low Z tamping fluid. The use of low Z liquid tamped targets can solve several problems that are currently faced by the industry. It can increase the total operational uptime from 80% to close to 100%. It can simplify EUV source design and reduce…

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Livermore Lab researchers have developed two new methods for improving the efficiency of laser drilling. The first method is based on multi-pulse laser technology. Two synchronized free-running laser pulses from a tandem-head Nd:YAG laser and a gated CW laser are capable of drilling through 1/8-in-thick stainless-steel targets at a standoff distance of 1 m without gas-assist. The combination of a…
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Livermore Lab's SBC grating optics benefit from the combination of the following key technologies:

  • LLNL proprietary optical coating designs utilizing >100 thin film layers – enables ultra-low-loss, ppm transmission levels through the coating, high diffraction efficiency, and large bandwidth.
  • LLNL proprietary dispersive surface relief structure design –…
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LLNL researchers have invented a method for scaling the average power of high-energy solid-state lasers to high values of average output power while maintaining high efficiency. This method combines the gas-cooled-slab amplifier architecture with a pattern of amplifier pumping and extraction that is new to high-energy pulsed lasers, in which pumping is continuous and in which only a small…

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LLNL researchers have developed a method in which a sleeveless photonic crystal optical fiber cane can be fabricated. A set of glass canes and capillaries, doped or un-doped, are stacked into a hexagonal pre-form. A piece of outer tube which is much shorter than the pre-form, but longer than the "hot zone" of a draw tower furnace, is placed around the pre-form on either end, and crimped to the…

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Monolithic Telescopes are a novel implementation of a solid catadioptric design form, instantiated in a monolithic block of fused silica.

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The LLNL method for optimizing as built optical designs uses insights from perturbed optical system theory and reformulates perturbation of optical performance in terms of double Zernikes, which can be calculated analytically rather than by tracing thousands of rays. A new theory of compensation is enabled by the use of double Zernikes which allows the performance degradation of a perturbed…

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As diode pumped solid state lasers (DPSSL) become more common there is a need to drive these pump diode arrays in a compact, efficient and cost-effective manner. The LLNL system for controlling high current laser diode arrays is an integrated system for meeting the needs of driving laser diode arrays in a DPSSL. The system is comprised of technologies required to control the DPSSL that…

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LLNL has developed several MLD grating technologies that extend the state of the art in overall laser optical power handling capability. LLNL MLD grating optics are the convolution of the following key technologies:

  1. Optical coating designs utilizing >100 thin film layers - enables ultra-low-loss, ppm transmission levels through the coating, high diffraction efficiency, and…
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LLNL researchers have developed a method for fabricating active or passive optical glass components, non-optical glass components, and/or glass sensors with custom material composition profiles in 1-, 2-, or 3-dimensions. In this method, DIW additive manufacturing technique is used to print filaments of a rheologically-tuned ink--containing a glass forming species--into a loosely bound,…

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LLNL researchers have demonstrated a novel single-shot recording technology for transient optical signals in a time regime of picoseconds to nanoseconds for which currently there is a significant instrumentation gap.

The optical switching capability of optical semiconductors can be exploited in a pump-probe style architecture, where an auxiliary pump beam is crossed through the signal…

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Lawrence Livermore researchers are the first to successfully develop a practical fiber-optic amplifier that generates significant optical gain from 1,390 nanometers (nm) to 1,460 nm with relatively good efficiency. This discovery enables the potential for installed optical fibers to operate in an untapped spectral region known as the E-band, in addition to the C- and L-bands where they…

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Lawrence Livermore researchers have developed a novel waveguide with resonant leakage elements that frustrate guidance at well-defined and selectable wavelengths. Based on this waveguide, the LLNL team has fabricated a Large Mode Area Neodymium doped fiber with suppression of the four-level transition around 1060 nm, and demonstrated lasing on the three-level transition at 930 nm with good…

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This technology comprises a method of depositing coatings of dissimilar materials on a substrate. A laser pulse hits the film of deposited material covered by a thin water layer. The laser deposition on the water-material interface generates huge pressure accelerating film to the velocities a few hundred meters per second. The film hits the substrate at an oblique angle. The high velocity of…

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LLNL's Slurry Stabilization Method provides a chemical means of stabilizing a polishing compound in suspension at working concentrations without reducing the rate of material removal. The treated product remains stable for many months in storage.

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The selected industrial partner and LLNL will enter into a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) to develop the next generation of laser technologies for MEGa-ray systems and to create a next generation of MEGa-ray sources that could be marketed to both the industrial and academic communities.

The MEGa-ray system developed will be based on LLNL's proprietary, multi-…

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The SLIDER deflector includes a waveguide, a serrated mask positioned above the waveguide cladding, and a synchronized pump beam. The pump beam illuminates the serrated mask with a short pulse and transfers its pattern to the guiding layer where it imprints a sequence of prisms. The prisms are activated via nonlinear optical effects in the semiconductor and persist for the duration of the…

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LLNL's invention uses energy efficient diode arrays for softening metals and alloys to enable friction stir process and friction stir welding. The use of intense light from compact, light-weight, and energy-efficient diode arrays to preheat the material being processed to the softening point eliminates defects associated with insufficient weld temperature such as tunnel voids.

The…

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LLNL’s system consists of one or more flashlamp-pumped Nd:glass zig-zag amplifiers, a very low threshold stimulated-Brillouin-scattering (SBS) phase conjugator system, and a free-running single frequency Nd:YLF master oscillator.

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LLNL is developing the Space-based Telescopes for Actionable Refinement of Ephemeris (STARE). STARE is a constellation of low cost nano-satellites (less than 5Kg) in low-earth orbit dedicated to the observation of space debris in conjunction with a ground-based infrastructure for maintenance, coordination and data processing. Each nano-satellite in the constellation is capable of recording an…

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The new LLNL technique works by transiently removing and trapping concrete or rock surface material, so that contaminants are confined in a manner that is easy to isolate and remove. Our studies suggest that 10 m2 of surface could be processed per hour. The technique easily scales to more surface/hr.