Powering breakthroughs:
clean energy production

  • Monday, December 19, 2022

Zygo Corporation is playing a pivotal role in the quest to revolutionize sustainable fusion energy generation

The background

Precise optics focused on world-changing research

The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s (LLNL’s) National Ignition Facility (NIF) conducts laser-based experiments that provide the scientific basis for a revolution in energy production. Inertial fusion energy offers the potential for virtually unlimited safe and sustainable clean energy by harnessing the power of the sun and stars.

Achieving these heights of energy production requires the highly precise optics produced by Zygo.

Experts in high-precision, high-energy flat optics

Headquartered in Middlefield, Connecticut, Zygo has been making optics for the NIF’s laser program since the early 1970s. For the NIF laser, Zygo developed optical manufacturing processes that support high-volume production of meter-class, laser-grade optics to rapidly replace those damaged by the hazardous conditions of the NIF experiments.

The challenge

Meeting the highest threshold for optical damage

NIF precisely focuses 192 powerful laser beams into a small target in a few billionths of a second, delivering 2.05 joules of ultraviolet energy and 500 trillion watts of peak power. Zygo’s role is critical because, uniquely, the NIF’s laser system operates above the laser damage threshold requirements for optics. This means that the laser damages the optics every time it’s used. Consequently, those optics need to be replaced periodically, while delivering the same, consistently high level of performance.

The solution

A partnership that's changing the world

NIF’s partnership with Zygo has been mutually beneficial. NIF helps push Zygo’s state-of-the-art processes, making its instrument quality better, while Zygo continues to advance its optical performance, which improves the performance of NIF’s laser systems. This collaboration has been integral to LLNL’s breakthrough in net gain fusion reaction which sets up the promise of world-changing advancements in unlimited, safe, and sustainable energy. Learn about Zygo measurements and optical components.

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