In particular, the panel concludes that laser direct drive is a viable concept to be pursued on the NIF. SNL’s work on Z-pinch can serve to mitigate risk should the NIF not operate as expected. This work is at a very early stage but is highly complementary to the NIF approach, because none of the work being done at SNL relies on successful ignition at the NIF, and key aspects of the target physics can be investigated on the existing Z-machine. Finally, emerging heavy-ion designs could be fruitful in the long term.
OVERARCHING RECOMMENDATION: The panel recommends against pursuing a down-select decision for IFE at this time, either for a specific concept such as LIFE or for a specific target type/driver combination.
Further R&D will be needed on indirect drive and other ICF concepts, even following successful ignition at the NIF, to determine the best path for IFE in the coming decades.