Laboratory for Laser Energetics

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Laboratory for Laser Energetics
Laboratory for Laser Energetics logo.jpg
Motto"A unique national resource"
Research typeUnclassified
Field of research
The investigation of the interaction of intense radiation with matter
DirectorChristopher Deeney
Staff400 - 500 people
Address250 East River Rd
Rochester, NY 14623-1212
LocationBrighton, New York, US
43°06′47″N 77°37′55″W / 43.113108°N 77.632012°W / 43.113108; -77.632012Coordinates: 43°06′47″N 77°37′55″W / 43.113108°N 77.632012°W / 43.113108; -77.632012
AffiliationsUnited States Department of Energy
MIT Plasma Science and Fusion Center
State University of New York at Geneseo
University of Nevada, Reno
University of Wisconsin–Madison
Operating agency
University of Rochester

The Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE) is a scientific research facility which is part of the University of Rochester's south campus, located in Brighton, New York. The lab was established in 1970 and its operations since then have been funded jointly; mainly by the United States Department of Energy, the University of Rochester and the New York State government. The Laser Lab was commissioned to serve as a center for investigations of high-energy physics, specifically those involving the interaction of extremely intense laser radiation with matter. Many types of scientific experiments are performed at the facility with a strong emphasis on inertial confinement, direct drive, laser-induced fusion, fundamental plasma physics and astrophysics using the Omega Laser Facility. In June 1995, OMEGA became the world's highest-energy ultraviolet laser.[1] The lab shares its building with the Center for Optoelectronics and Imaging and the Center for Optics Manufacturing. The Robert L. Sproull Center for Ultra High Intensity Laser Research was opened in 2005 and houses the OMEGA EP laser, which was completed in May 2008.

The laboratory is unique in conducting big science on a university campus.[not verified in body] More than 180 Ph.D.s have been awarded for research done at the LLE.[2][3] During summer months the lab sponsors a program for high school students which involves local-area high school juniors in the research being done at the laboratory. Most of the projects are done on current research that is led by senior scientists at the lab.[4]


The LLE was founded on the University of Rochester's campus in 1970, by Dr. Moshe Lubin.[5][6] Working with outside companies such as Kodak the team built Delta, a four beam laser system in 1972. Construction started on the current LLE site in 1976.[5] The facility opened a six beam laser system in 1978 and followed with a 24 beam system two years later. In 2018, Donna Strickland[7] and Gérard Mourou shared a Nobel prize for work they had undertaken in 1985 while at LLE.[8] They invented a method to amplify laser pulses by "chirping" for which they would share the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics. This method disperses a short, broadband pulse of laser light into a temporally longer spectrum of wavelengths. The system amplifies the laser at each wavelength and then reconstitutes the beam into one color. Chirp pulsed amplification became instrumental in building the National Ignition Facility and the Omega EP system. In 1995, the omega laser system was increased to 60 beams, and in 2008 the Omega extended performance system was opened.

The Guardian and Scientific American provided simplified summaries of the work of Strickland and Mourou: it "paved the way for the shortest, most intense laser beams ever created". "The ultrabrief, ultrasharp beams can be used to make extremely precise cuts so their technique is now used in laser machining and enables doctors to perform millions of corrective" laser eye surgeries.[9][10]

OMEGA laser[edit]

The OMEGA laser at the LLE is one of the most powerful and highest energy lasers in the world. It is a 60-beam ultraviolet frequency-tripled neodymium glass laser, which is capable of delivering 40 kilojoules at up to 60 terawatts onto a target less than 1 millimeter in diameter.[11] Construction and commissioning of the laser were completed in 1995. OMEGA held the record for highest energy laser (per pulse) from 1999 (after the Nova laser's dismantling) to 2005, when the first 8 beams of the National Ignition Facility exceeded OMEGA's output by about 30 kJ in the ultraviolet. The maximum fusion yield of OMEGA so far is about 1014 neutrons per shot, and it once held the record for highest neutron yield of any inertial confinement fusion device. It has demonstrated at least 5e13 neutrons per shot.[12]

OMEGA EP laser[edit]

The four beam OMEGA EP (extended performance) laser system was dedicated on May 16, 2008.[13] Along with four NIF-like laser beams, it hosts a new target chamber and a vacuum pulse compression chamber containing large-aperture pulse compression gratings, allowing the laser system to perform short pulse laser shots. The laser is housed inside a 2005 building addition. The combination of the OMEGA and the OMEGA EP laser systems make LLE the world's only fully integrated cryogenic fast ignition experimental facility.


Main entrance

LLE is located on and operated by the University of Rochester.[14] Omega and Omega EP are user facilities, open for use by the entire scientific community.[15]

LLE's principal sponsor is the Department of Energy/National Nuclear Security Administration (DOE/NNSA) Office of Defense Programs, which supports its stockpile stewardship and advanced scientific computing programs.[15][14]

The Laboratory has a five-fold mission:[16]

  • To conduct implosion experiments and basic physics experiments in support of the National Inertial Confinement Fusion (ICF) program.
  • To develop new laser and materials technologies.
  • To provide graduate and undergraduate education in electro-optics, high-power lasers, high-energy-density physics, plasma physics, and nuclear fusion technology.
  • To operate the National Laser Users' Facility.
  • To conduct research and development in advanced technology related to high-energy-density phenomena.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "World's Most Powerful Ultraviolet Laser Comes On-line"
  2. ^ "LLE Theses"
  3. ^ "Theses from NLUF Research"
  4. ^ "LLE High School Students and Projects"
  5. ^ a b "Leading Lights" Features, Rochester Magazine, 2010,, By Scott Hauser
  6. ^ "History of the Laboratory for Laser Energetics"
  7. ^ "Dr. Donna Strickland: Packing a laser punch" The University of Waterloo, Personal Profiles, accessed 1-11-2014, "Dr. Donna Strickland | Science". Archived from the original on 2014-01-11. Retrieved 2014-08-24.
  8. ^ "Rochester breakthrough in laser science earns Nobel Prize". University of Rochester. October 2, 2018. Retrieved October 4, 2018.
  9. ^ "Physics Nobel prize won by Arthur Ashkin, Gérard Mourou and Donna Strickland". The Guardian. 2 October 2018. Retrieved 2 October 2018.
  10. ^ ""Optical Tweezers" and Tools Used for Laser Eye Surgery Snag Physics Nobel". Scientific American. 2 October 2018. Retrieved 2 October 2018.
  11. ^ "OMEGA Laser - Laboratory for Laser Energetics"
  12. ^[bare URL PDF]
  13. ^ "OMEGA EP Laser Dedication"
  14. ^ a b "Omega Laser Facility Completes Record 25,000 Experiments | National Nuclear Security Administration | (NNSA)". Archived from the original on 2017-05-20. Retrieved 2018-11-29.
  15. ^ a b "Maintaining the Stockpile - Department of Energy".
  16. ^ Energetics, University of Rochester - Laboratory for Laser. "Office of the Director - Laboratory for Laser Energetics".

External links[edit]