(CEA), and several other European laser collaborations. It attempts to develop relevant industrial connections for all purposes in the Bordeaux area. CELIA is heavily involved in the HiPER project. It is also a very active collaborator with other nations such as Japan and the United States on laser IFE research and with other large programs such as ITER for fusion-related materials research.
The French IFE effort other than HiPER is the Laser MégaJoule (LMJ). LMJ is similar to HiPER in one way and to NIF in a different way. Like NIF, LMJ will use a flashlamp-pumped laser as its driver. LMJ is also structurally very similar to NIF, but with differences in the number of beams and optics. It will use indirect-drive ignition and will produce approximately the same final laser wavelength of 351 nm at a similar maximum energy of 1.8 MJ. LMJ will use indirect drive for the purpose of weapons physics studies, just as NIF does. Though it is associated with the French nuclear weapons program, LMJ is to be used for open research, including IFE, 25 percent of the time, according to the present CEA Commissioner.
Currently, the CEA target laboratory is responsible for all CEA laser target needs. It has no plans to expand its capabilities for mass-production of IFE targets for the time being and will rely on General Atomics for targets for the foreseeable future. The future challenges that LMJ will face in IFE are similar to those facing other programs reliant on indirect drive: building, positioning, and orienting high-velocity targets; managing the large mass present in an indirect-drive-type target; and meeting the higher energy requirement for indirect drive ignition predicted by computer simulation.
It is planned that “first light” experiments from 162 of the intended 240 beams will occur at LMJ in 2014, with ignition experiments starting in 2017. The EU-sponsored petawatt laser arm (PETAL) will also be brought online in parallel with the main LMJ facility.
The Chinese IFE program plans to achieve ignition and burn around the year 2020. On the path to that goal, China is updating existing laser research facilities such as SG-II to higher energies and with additional features such as backlighting. The SG-III lamp-pumped Nd:glass facility is also in the process of an upgrade from 8 to 48 beams. The upgrade and construction work will culminate in completion of the 1.5 MJ (351 nm) SG-IV ignition facility.
The laser driver for the SG-IV facility is planned to be Yb:YAG water-cooled DPSSLs operating between 1 and 10 Hz and fired into a 6-m-diameter target chamber. The choice of ignition method and target has not been finalized, though fast ignition is favored with a cone-in-shell target. The indirect drive is still being considered, however. The upgrades to China’s existing laser facilities as well as new capabilities are planned to drive target physics and ignition research.