The United States enjoyed a protracted period of technological and engineering dominance in the area of high-peak-power lasers during the 20th century. The laser fusion effort spearheaded by the Department of Energy (DOE) had many important technology spin-offs, including the development of rare-earth doped solid-state lasers,1 development of scalable solid-state laser materials,2 methods for cost-effective laser diodes for pump sources,3,4 invention of chirped-pulse amplifi-
1 Ralph R. Jacobs, William F. Krupke, and Marvin J. Weber, “Measurement of Excited-state-absorption Loss for Ce3+ in Y3Al5O12 and Implications for Tunable 5d→4f Rare-earth Lasers,” Applied Physics Letters 33, no. 5 (September 1, 1978): 410–12, doi:10.1063/1.90395.
2 S.E Stokowski, W.E Martin, and S.M Yarema, “Optical and Lasing Properties of Fluorophosphate Glass,” Journal of Non-Crystalline Solids 40, no. 1–3 (July 1980): 481–87, doi:10.1016/0022-3093(80)90123-4.
3 W. F. Krupke, “High-Average-Power, Diode-Pumped Solid State Lasers for Energy and Industrial Applications,” in Presented at the 6th International Symposium on Advanced Nuclear Energy Research, Mito, Japan, 23-25 Mar. 1994, 1994.
4 Andy J. Bayramian, “High Energy, High Average Power, DPSSL System For Next Generation Petawatt Laser Systems,” in Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics (Optical Society of America, 2016), STu3M.2, doi:10.1364/CLEO_SI.2016.STu3M.2.
cation (CPA),5 large aperture nonlinear optics,6 diffractive optics,7 and others. DOE laboratories were not the ones that developed all solid-state laser (SSL) materials or cost-effective diodes for high-average-power lasers, but they are dominant in materials for high-intensity lasers.
This dominance was one aspect of the wider extraordinary impact of lasers on the U.S. economy, which has been documented in several independent reports. While some benefits were anticipated, many applications were discovery-driven. The 1998 National Academies’ report Harnessing Light: Optical Science and Engineering for the 21st Century8 highlighted technological accomplishments resulting from optics, making the point that optics technology has an outsize impact on society compared with its total dollar-volume in the economy; in other words, although the consumer impact is relatively invisible, the enabling impact—for example, in making fiber optic communication and the internet feasible—has been transformational.
U.S. commercial laser manufacturers led the market in the 20th century as well, including large companies such as Coherent Radiation, Spectra-Physics, General Dynamics, TRW, Avco, and others. Large defense contractors, such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, and others scaled high-average-power lasers for defense purposes. The commercial ecosystem that arose includes component companies providing optics and crystals, such as INRAD and CVI, and smaller companies, such as KMLabs or IMRA America, that specialized in the research market. The largest trade shows were also in the United States.
5 Donna Strickland and Gerard Mourou, “Compression of Amplified Chirped Optical Pulses,” Optics Communications 56, no. 3 (December 1, 1985): 219–21, doi:10.1016/0030-4018(85)90120-8.
6 Natalia P. Zaitseva et al., “Rapid Growth of Large-Scale (40-55 Cm) KDP Crystals,” vol. 3047, 1997, 404–14, doi:10.1117/12.294327.
7 J. A. Britten et al., “Large Aperture, High-Efficiency Multilayer Dielectric Reflection Gratings,” in Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics (2002), Paper CPDB7 (Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics, Optical Society of America, 2002), CPDB7, http://www.osapublishing.org/abstract.cfm?uri=CLEO-2002-CPDB7.
8 National Research Council (NRC), 1998, Harnessing Light: Optical Science and Engineering for the 21st Century, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C.
2.2.1 Science and Technology Investment in Lasers Declines in the United States as It Builds Overseas
At the end of the last century, the national and international landscape for high-intensity laser science started to change. Several reasons contributed to the changing tide.
First, the excitement generated by discovery, scientific opportunity, and the economic benefits inspired by the 1998 National Academies’ report captured the attention of the entire world. The Harnessing Light report of 1998 was perceived as having little impact for U.S. science and technology funding but was taken up enthusiastically elsewhere, as discussed in Chapter 4. The United States was no longer the epicenter; instead, significant strategic investment was made in Europe and Japan followed by China, Japan, Korea, and Russia. The growth outside of the United States was stunning, coordinated, and rapid.
188.8.131.52 Compartmentalization of U.S. Science by Agency
Second, the binary nature of the U.S. research model, with large-scale national efforts juxtaposed to “single-investigator” funding, revealed its weakness: the relative lack of effective funding mechanisms that could explicitly help steward a research field with a wide variety of scales and contexts, including individual investigator work, mid-scale centers, large facilities, and university-laboratory collaborations. DOE has been an effective steward for large-scale laser facilities for specific research programs, such as Livermore’s National Ignition Facility (NIF), which mostly serves the DOE weapons program; but no U.S. agency has an effective strategy for stewarding the advanced laser technology needed to exploit broader frontiers of science or capitalize on emerging new applications. As the increased cost for state-of-the-art high-intensity laser laboratories and infrastructure moved beyond the capabilities of most U.S. university-based “single principle investigators (PIs),” the result was simply a significant decrease in academic participation.
184.108.40.206 Decline of Corporate Research Laboratories
Third, the end of the 20th century witnessed a steady decline of corporate investment in long-term research, especially private sector basic research laboratories such as IBM Laboratories, Bell Laboratories, and GE Laboratories. The most
notable was the breakup of the AT&T telephone monopoly. Its Bell laboratories was one of the great success stories of the post-WWII era, instrumental in establishing the foundations of many of the technologies that define the century, such as the transistor and the laser. It also carried out significant early work in high-intensity laser-matter interactions and short-wavelength lasers. In the 1980s, it was a dominant force in the development of femtosecond laser technology. Although Bell’s interest was primarily in telecommunications applications, the “energy” derived from rapid progress in the femtosecond laser area drove the field forward and prompted others to explore the intensity frontier in ultrashort pulse lasers.
220.127.116.11 Inflexibility in Federal Programs
Fourth, flat federal funding and short-term budgets resulted in U.S. science losing its flexibility and nimbleness—elements that feed new discovery. Worldwide economic expansion in the new millennium witnessed the emergence of international competition from both individual countries and consortia such as the European Union. These provided new funding for research beyond existing infrastructure burdens—often explicitly looking for dynamic research areas with a proven impact. These efforts were simply in a better position to capitalize on the foundational work done by the United States. Several early reports issued in the United States predicted the impeding decline of U.S. leadership, the rise of international participation, and the cost to the United States of missed opportunities (see Section 2.8).
Despite these warnings, no federal agencies took comprehensive stewardship responsibility for high-intensity laser science and technology in the United States, although fragments of many relevant programs exist. In the past, the Department of Defense (DOD) was a strong funder of laser research; however, the decline in basic defense research support following the end of the Cold War hit the laser area particularly hard. DOE had taken the lead in large-scale high-intensity lasers as part of its laser fusion and stockpile stewardship efforts; however, the cost and difficulty of completing large projects, specifically NIF, significantly squeezed DOE funding in high-intensity laser development. Smaller, more creative and exploratory efforts in laser science became victim of the expanding needs of large-scale laser projects, leaving very little “free energy” for creative ideas in advanced high energy laser science. An example of this was the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Stockpile Stewardship Academic Alliances (SSAA) program, whose objective was in part this type of stewardship. The effort built up over a decade and exhibited vitality for a few years before being broken apart by its National Science Foundation (NSF), NNSA, and DOE fusion energy sciences (FES) patrons. FES has seen declining budgets and increasing needs, such as U.S. participation in the ITER in France, and saw little funding available for relevant high-intensity lasers. The
FES support in this area is now largely for the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) end-station on matter in extreme conditions (MEC). Only the NSF-DOE plasma sciences program remains, which supports a small number of modest projects using high-intensity lasers, as one component of its program.
The consequence of these events led to the perfect storm. The decline of academic participation meant a significant loss in the training and education of the next generation of young scientists and engineers needed for driving the large-scale projects of national interest. Furthermore, the shift of U.S. efforts into a small number of in-house national laboratory projects led to the reduced participation and cooperation with private companies. Consequently, the production of state of the art in optical components and know-how were becoming increasingly absent from private companies.
The commercial sector changed as well. In the 21st century, the largest laser trade show became Lasers Munich. The largest laser manufacturer is now TRUMPF in Germany.9 And European companies and laboratories are dominating many engineering innovations such as thin-disc lasers and fiber lasers. The field has undergone consolidation so that now the largest companies are multinational, including companies that began in the United States, such as Coherent10 and Newport Corporation,11 and companies that began overseas but are now in the United States, such as IPG Photonics.12 The largest part of the laser business for both TRUMPF and IPG is manufacturing applications that use high energy lasers, not high-peak-power lasers, but these companies are nonetheless critical to high-intensity laser infrastructure because all CPA lasers employ just these types of high energy sources as essential components for the manufacture of peak-power petawatt (PW)-class laser systems.
In recent years, EU support has resulted in a steady stream of start-up laser companies in the area of high-intensity laser technology. This is driven by a number of mechanisms: significant research funding in intense laser areas at universities and at research institutes, as well as equipment purchase funding at national
9 TRUMPF Group, “Facts and Figures - TRUMPF Group,” accessed December 11, 2016, http://www.trumpf.com/en/company/facts-and-figures.html.
laboratories, both for standard commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) lasers and for higher-risk development projects. And joint university-industry research centers such as the Fraunhofer Institutes provide substantial government support for industry-directed projects. This contrasts with the situation in the United States, where the government supports virtually no stand-alone laser development work in high-intensity lasers, but rather all such work is justified as a small part of a larger scientific project. The situation in Europe has resulted in a proliferation of companies in Europe in various areas of advanced laser technologies: One-Five,13 Class 5 Photonics,14 Thales Lasers,15 Amplitude Systemes,16 Amplitude Technologies,17 Laser Quantum/Venteon, Ekspla, Light Conversion, FASTLITE,18 Menlo Systems,19 and TRUMPF Scientific Lasers.20 Ironically, several European companies (Femtolasers,21 Time-Bandwidth Products,22 Lumera Laser23) have been purchased by U.S. companies (Newport, JDSU, and Coherent, respectively); however, the result has been a shift of the center of gravity of these companies away from the United States—for example, Coherent’s workforce was already comparable or larger in Germany compared with the United States before announcing its intent to acquire Germany-based Rofin24—a company comparable in size to Coherent.
20 “Facts and Figures - TRUMPF Group.”
21 Spectra-Physics, “Spectra-Physics Completes Acquisition of FEMTOLASERS,” accessed December 11, 2016, http://www.spectra-physics.com/company/news/spectra-physics-completes-acquisition-of-femtolasers.
22 Laser Focus World, “JDSU Acquires Ultrafast Laser Maker Time-Bandwidth Products,” “JDSU Acquires Ultrafast Laser Maker Time-Bandwidth Products,” accessed December 11, 2016, http://www.laserfocusworld.com/articles/2014/01/jdsu-acquires-ultrafast-laser-maker-time-bandwidth-products.html.
24 Coherent-Rofin, https://www.rofin.com/, “ROFIN.COM - Lasers for Industry - Fiber Lasers, Ultrashort Pulse Lasers, Solid-State Lasers, CO2-Lasers Etc.,” accessed December 11, 2016, https://www.rofin.com/.
Prompted by the 50th anniversary of the laser’s discovery and the growing worldwide optics economy, a 2010 White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) study reassessed the impact in three economic sectors: transportation (total market estimated at $1 trillion in output in 2009-2010); the biomedical sector ($2.5 trillion); and telecom, e-commerce, and IT ($4 trillion).25 The results are encapsulated in Figure 2.1. In response to the OSTP findings, the National Academies issued a more comprehensive report in 2013 entitled Optics and Photonics: Essential Technologies for Our Nation that not only evaluated the impact of lasers on the U.S. economy, but also on defense and national security, advanced manufacturing, and energy.26 In addition, the study identified that continued leadership in all these sectors required a trained workforce supported by a foundation of strong academic research and education. This report was adopted by the White House, resulting in the $200 million Integrated Photonics Institute.27
In addition to its more tangible benefits, the laser plays a central role in basic and applied research in virtually every area of science. The topic of this report—high-intensity and very short-pulse duration—represents the leading edge of a research area that has proven its broad relevance. The laser was first demonstrated in 1960 at the Hughes Research Laboratory, and much of the early innovation emerged from small laboratories located at universities and companies throughout the United States, funded by federal agencies and private sources. National needs in defense and energy drew immediate and substantial benefits, and laser work has been recognized by a string of Nobel Prizes (40 since 1964 have relied on lasers).28 The importance of this work initiated substantial investment in national programs at DOE and DOD laboratories. Thus, the United States developed a funding paradigm based on the nimbleness of university laboratories and the infrastructure needs for large-scale federal laboratories. Approaching the new millennium, the United States was at the pinnacle of laser research in the world.
Through this balanced effort, a new frontier emerged in laser research enabled by the development of high-intensity, ultrafast lasers. Again, U.S. scientists forged
25 T. Baer and F. Schlachter, 2010, “Lasers in Science and Industry: A Report to OSTP on the Contribution of Lasers to American Jobs and the American Economy,” presented at LaserFest 2010, http://www.laserfest.org/lasers/baer-schlachter.pdf.
27 The White House, “President Obama Announces New Manufacturing Innovation Institute Competition,” last update October 3, 2014, https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/10/03/fact-sheet-president-obama-announces-new-manufacturing-innovation-instit.
28 Nobel Prize, “Laser Facts,” accessed January 8, 2017, https://www.nobelprize.org/educational/physics/laser/facts/history.html.
this path launched by the notable development of CPA in 1985 at the Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE) at the University of Rochester. This seminal technological development resulted in several important science breakthroughs, all at U.S. institutions:
- the first demonstration of a PW (1015 W/cm2) laser and its use in experiments at ultra-relativistic intensity at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL);29
- the first anti-matter (positron) production with a laser at SLAC (1997);30
- the first demonstration of femtosecond X-ray generation through inverse Compton scattering at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) (1996);31
29 M. D. Perry et al., “Petawatt Laser Pulses,” Optics Letters 24, no. 3 (February 1, 1999): 160, doi:10.1364/OL.24.000160; Michael D. Perry and Gerard Mourou, “Terawatt to Petawatt Subpicosecond Lasers,” Science 264, no. 5161 (May 13, 1994): 917–24, doi:10.1126/science.264.5161.917.
30 M.W. Browne, “Scientists Use Light to Create Particles,” accessed January 8, 2017, https://www.slac.stanford.edu/exp/e144/nytimes.html.
31 R. W. Schoenlein et al., “Femtosecond X-Ray Pulses at 0.4 Å Generated by 90° Thomson Scattering: A Tool for Probing the Structural Dynamics of Materials,” Science 274, no. 5285 (October 11, 1996): 236–38, doi:10.1126/science.274.5285.236.
- the first demonstration of multiphoton Compton scattering at SLAC (1999);32
- the first self-amplified spontaneous emission free-electron lasing at Brookhaven National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), and University of California, Los Angeles;33
- the first laser wake field GeV electron acceleration at LBNL (2006);34 and
- the first hard X-ray free-electron laser at SLAC (2009).35
These pioneering achievements required large-scale facilities that were available at the various national laboratories. The campaigns were all stewarded by the DOE either through the NNSA or the Office of Science. Many seminal science discoveries were occurring concurrently in academic laboratories funded by “single-investigator” programs supported by DOE, DOD, and NSF. The United States was positioned as a world leader in both the technology and science of high-intensity lasers while supporting the development of a complementary high-tech industry.
U.S. government contracts still support a vibrant community of small manufacturers of high-power lasers, ultrafast CPA lasers, and components. For the present, there is sufficient expertise in the United States to support the development of facilities for high-peak-power lasers. Specific evidence for this claim is the fact that Extreme Light Infrastructure (ELI) has contracts with a U.S. company (National Energetics) and with a U.S. DOE laboratory (LLNL) for the delivery of PW-class lasers (see Chapter 3). The previous concentration of laser expertise and utilization within the NNSA laboratories, particularly LLNL, LLE,
32 C. Bamber, S.J. Boege, T. Koffas, T. Kotseroglou, A.C. Melissinos, D.D. Meyerhofer, D.A. Reis, et al., 1999, Studies of nonlinear QED in collisions of 46.6 GeV electrons with intense laser pulses, Physical Review D 60(9): 092004; C. Bula, K.T. McDonald, E.J. Prebys, C. Bamber, S. Boege, T. Kotseroglou, A.C. Melissinos, et al., 1996, Observation of nonlinear effects in Compton Scattering, Phys. Rev. Lett. 76(17): 3116–3119.
33 M. Babzien et al., “Observation of Self-Amplified Spontaneous Emission in the near-Infrared and Visible Wavelengths,” Physical Review E 57, no. 5 (May 1, 1998): 6093–6100, doi:10.1103/ PhysRevE.57.6093.
34 W. P. Leemans et al., “GeV Electron Beams from a Centimetre-Scale Accelerator,” Nature Physics 2, no. 10 (October 2006): 696–99, doi:10.1038/nphys418.
35 P. Emma et al., “First Lasing and Operation of an Angstrom-Wavelength Free-Electron Laser,” Nature Photonics 4, no. 9 (2010): 641–647.
Laser companies in the United States are active in development of new high-intensity laser technologies. A representative survey shows the range of activities. Small start-up company National Energetics38 is focused on facility-scale PW lasers. The small specialty research laser company KMLabs39 is focused on terawatt-scale, kHz Ti:sapphire lasers and commercialization of coherent EUV from high-harmonic generation secondary sources, as well as compact lasers for industrial applications. Two larger laser companies, Newport-Spectra Physics and Coherent, which have far more diverse product lines, have focused on engineering improvements to existing Ti:sapphire products as well as compact industrial lasers. Other smaller U.S.-based firms that have catered to the research market include Clark MXR40 and IMRA America41 (Japanese owned).
This section describes historical trends in agency support for high-intensity science, in particular from the Department of Energy, National Science Foundation, and Department of Defense.
At present there is no comprehensive stewardship of high-intensity lasers for science in the United States, although pieces of many programs and activities exist in this area. In the past, DOD (Air Force Office of Scientific Research and Office of Naval Research) was a strong sponsor of laser research within its own laborato-
36 W. P. Leemans et al., “Multi-GeV Electron Beams from Capillary-Discharge-Guided Subpetawatt Laser Pulses in the Self-Trapping Regime,” Physical Review Letters 113, no. 24 (December 8, 2014): 245002, doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.113.245002.
37 SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, 2015, New Science Opportunities Enabled by LCLS-II X-ray Lasers, Menlo Park, Calif., June 1. https://portal.slac.stanford.edu/sites/lcls_public/Documents/LCLS-IIScienceOpportunities_final.pdf?Mobile=1.
ries and with other companies and universities in the United States; this declined substantially in the 1990s.42 Laser technology is difficult to separate from other projects, but the general trend in Defense science and technology funding can be seen in Figure 2.2.
DOE led research in high-intensity lasers as part of its laser fusion efforts; however, the cost and difficulty of completing the NIF project43 may have significantly squeezed DOE funding in high-intensity laser development. The NNSA SSAA program44 had the objective of stewardship of this area. The effort built up over a decade and exhibited vitality for a few years but has suffered lack of coordination among its NSF, NNSA, and DOE FES contributors in recent years. FES has seen declining budgets and increasing needs to divert its core funding to satisfy the U.S. binding commitment to the European ITER tokomak fusion project45 and seen little fusion production relevance to funding high-intensity lasers.46 The NNSA portion of SSAA has focused attention on the MEC beamline of the LCLS. Only the NSF/DOE plasma sciences partnership program47 remains mostly available for broader participation by the high-intensity laser community.
Federal funding comes from four main sources: DOD 6.1 funding,48 DOE FES program in the SC,49 NSF Directorates for Mathematical and Physical Sciences and Engineering,50 and the DOE ICF program (administered by DOD-NNSA).51 Most funding levels have been flat or declining during the period of rapid growth in high-intensity laser technology over the past 15 years, and no single agency has taken the lead in advancing this area. (See Figure 2.3)
42 American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), “Historical Trends in Federal R&D,” AAAS - The World’s Largest General Scientific Society, June 11, 2013, https://www.aaas.org/page/historical-trends-federal-rd.
44 National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), “Stewardship Science Academic Alliances,” National Nuclear Security Administration, December 21, 2011, https://nnsa.energy.gov/aboutus/ourprograms/defenseprograms/stockpilestewardship/upaa/ssaa.
46 U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science, “FES Budget | U.S. DOE Office of Science (SC),” accessed December 11, 2016, http://science.energy.gov/budget/budget-by-program/fes-budget/.
47 National Science Foundation (NSF), “NSF/DOE Partnership in Basic Plasma Science and Engineering (Nsf16564) | NSF - National Science Foundation,” accessed December 11, 2016, https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2016/nsf16564/nsf16564.htm.
48 AAAS, “Historical Trends in Federal R&D.”
49 J. Brown, J. Hayes, S. Rhodes, and C. Webb, 2015, “Federal Funding Sources,” n.d., https://www.ccas.net/files/2015%20Annual%20Meeting%20Washington%20DC/Presentations/Federal%20Funding%20Sources.pdf.
NSF, which has supported national centers of excellence, such as the Center for Ultrafast Optical Science at the University of Michigan (1991-2002),52 appears to no longer be directly involved in the development of high-powered or high-intensity lasers, except for some spin-off applications such as the new NSF STROBE Science and Technology Center at University of Colorado.53 NSF also has some mid-scale instrumentation programs for modest laser development.54
DOD has launched several MURIs (5-year multi-site university-based research programs) in this area that have been important in supporting high-intensity
53 NSF, “NSF Award Search: Award#1548924 - Science and Technology Center on Real-Time Functional Imaging (STROBE),” accessed December 11, 2016, https://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward?AWD_ID=1548924.
54 NSF, “NSF PHY Midscale Dear Colleague Letter,” accessed December 11, 2016, https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2014/nsf14116/nsf14116.jsp.
The DOE SC has designated the Office of High Energy Physics to steward high-intensity lasers for advanced accelerator concepts. They have supported high-intensity laser programs specifically for advanced accelerators,57 but the stewardship program does not currently emphasize other laser research. However, there is a need for high-intensity lasers in the offices of Basic Energy Science, nuclear physics, fusion science, and other areas. The Office of Fusion Energy Science in DOE also supports high-intensity work in the area of plasma physics but not in other areas.58 The DOE-NNSA program, which has a nuclear security mission, supports NIF and associated programs in high-intensity lasers but does not act as a steward to high-intensity lasers outside of its own missions.59
In summary, it appears that there is broad interest in high-intensity laser science and technology across multiple U.S. science agencies, but the efforts are not well coordinated, and there is no overall agency steward that can oversee the complementary interests and build a multi-agency high intensity facilities program.
DOE has two branches with large investments in high-intensity lasers, the DOE-SC and the NNSA. In fact, the NNSA constructed the world’s first short-
55 APAN, “MURI 15 Kickoff - Strong Field Laser Matter Interactions at Mid-Infrared Wavelengths - Research Areas - AFOSR - APAN Community,” accessed December 11, 2016, https://community.apan.org/wg/afosr/w/researchareas/15602.muri-15-kickoff-strong-field-laser-matter-interactions-at-mid-infrared-wavelengths/; “2016 FY16 Radiation Balanced Lasers MURI Kick-OFF - Research Areas - AFOSR - APAN Community,” accessed December 11, 2016, https://community.apan.org/wg/afosr/w/researchareas/18662.2016-fy16-radiation-balanced-lasers-muri-kick-off/; “Femto-Solid Lab Part of a $12.5 Million AFOSR MURI Program | High Energy Density Physics Scarlet Laser Facility,” accessed December 11, 2016, https://hedp.osu.edu/news/femto-solid-lab-part-12.5-million-afosr-muri-program; Pavel G. Polynkin, “Experimental Component of the AFOSR-Supported MURI Program on Ultrafast Laser Filamentation in Transparent Dielectric Media,” vol. 8547, 2012, 85470H–85470H–7, doi:10.1117/12.977179.
56 All Partners Access Network (APAN), “MURI 15 Kickoff - Strong Field Laser Matter Interactions at Mid-Infrared Wavelengths - Research Areas - AFOSR - APAN Community”; “2016 FY16 Radiation Balanced Lasers MURI Kick-OFF - Research Areas - AFOSR - APAN Community”; “Femto-Solid Lab Part of a $12.5 Million AFOSR MURI Program | High Energy Density Physics Scarlet Laser Facility”; Polynkin, “Experimental Component of the AFOSR-Supported MURI Program on Ultrafast Laser Filamentation in Transparent Dielectric Media.”
57 DOE, 2013, “Lasers for Accelerators,” http://science.energy.gov/~/media/hep/pdf/accelerator-rd-stewardship/Lasers_for_Accelerators_Report_Final.pdf.
58 R. Falcone, 2008, “FESAC HEDS,” http://science.energy.gov/~/media/fes/fesac/pdf/2010/Falcone_fesac.pdf.
pulse PW-class laser on the Nova facility in 1992 at LLNL but was decommissioned in 1999.60 The NNSA mission is responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science and maintaining and enhancing the safety, security, and effectiveness of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile. Most of the NNSA high-intensity laser (HIL) programs are conducted at national laboratories, which include LLNL, LANL, LLE, and Sandia (Livermore and Los Alamos). These HIL assets are used to maintain and ensure the effectiveness of the American nuclear weapons stockpile and include the NIF and Jupiter Laser Facility (Livermore), Trident (Los Alamos), OMEGA and OMEGA-EP (Rochester), and the Z-Machine (Sandia). Except for the OMEGA-EP laser, these facilities provide high energy (kilojoule) pulses on nanosecond time scales for producing extreme temperatures and pressures. NNSA also uses multiple supercomputer facilities to run simulations and validate experimental data. These laboratories operate with well-defined defense programs and are generally inaccessible to the science community at large. NNSA does maintain a small number of Centers of Excellence funded by the Academic Strategic Alliance Program (ASAP). The ASAP and the Predictive Science Academic Alliance Program (PSAAP) engage the U.S. academic community in making significant advances in predictive modeling and simulation technologies. A few experimental programs are also supported by this program; the Texas-Petawatt at University of Texas, Austin is the only academic facility with PW capabilities in this program. Other collaborating universities are integrated into program activities that are intended to challenge existing notions about what is possible in science-based stockpile stewardship modeling and simulation. These programs also help with workforce development for defense programs through the training of students at partnering universities. In general, the DOE-NNSA program has a well-defined nuclear security mission and does not act as a steward of high-intensity lasers outside of that mission.
Conversely, DOE SC is the lead agency supporting fundamental scientific research for energy and the nation’s largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences. The agency provides direct support of scientific research in universities, industry, and national laboratories, and supports the development, construction, and operation of unique, open-access scientific user facilities. The primary programs funding HIL research are Basic Energy Sciences (BES), FES, and High Energy Physics (HEP). SC operates 10 open-access national laboratories. Several of these laboratories are operating facilities relevant to this study. In addition, SC is the prime steward of HIL academic research mainly through single-PI funded programs.
The DOE SC has designated the Office of High Energy Physics to steward high-intensity lasers for advanced accelerator concepts. However, this stewardship
60 M.D. Perry et al., “Petawatt Laser Pulses.”
responsibility is not funded well enough to extend more broadly at present. It supports the Berkeley Lab Laser Accelerator (BELLA) Center, which focuses on the development and application of laser-plasma accelerators (LPAs). HILs are used to produce ultrahigh accelerating fields (1-100 GV/m) that may provide a compact technology for a variety of applications that include accelerators for high energy physics and drivers for high energy photon sources. This application is discussed in Chapter 5 of this report.
The LCLS at SLAC is a user X-ray free-electron laser (X-ray FEL) facility providing unprecedented intense, ultrafast hard X-rays (0.2-12 keV) for a variety of science applications. One of the experimental hutches is dedicated to studying MEC. Several HILs are collocated at the MEC. The LCLS is funded by BES. Currently, the LCLS-II upgrade project is under construction and will provide the user community with additional average power and pulse brevity capabilities. The Sub-Picosecond Pulse Source (SPPS), also at SLAC, was the prelude project (operation 2003-2007) for developing the technology and science capabilities necessary for X-ray FEL operations.
The experience and expertise of the Department of Energy in building and operating high intensity laser facilities is well beyond other agencies in the federal government, and this makes DOE a primary agency to lead the creation of future high intensity laser scientific facilities in the United States (see Recommendation 3, Section 7.2). Furthermore, relevance to the DOE mission helps justify future resources to accomplish this.
NSF was one of the early stewards of academic research in HIL science through various programs including single-PI grants, Science and Technology Centers (STC), Physics Frontiers Centers (PFC), and the Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) program. Over the period from 1990 to 2001, the Center for Ultrafast Optical Science (CUOS) was established at the University Michigan (UM) under the STC program. Its mission was to perform multidisciplinary research in the basic science and technological applications of ultrashort laser pulses, to educate students from a wide variety of backgrounds in the field, and to spur the development of new technologies. CUOS researchers were at the forefront of the development of ultrahigh-peak-power light pulses and their applications. CUOS was directed by Prof. Gerard Mourou, the eventual convener of the ELI project in Europe. In 2002, CUOS became part of the newly established Frontiers in Optical Coherent and Ultrafast Science (FOCUS) Center at UM, one of the first under the NSF PFC program. The FOCUS mission was to provide national leadership in the areas of coherent control, ultrafast, and high-field physics. Most notably, the FOCUS center
developed the first university-based PW-class (0.3 PW) laser.61 This was the only U.S. PW-class laser for a time, since the Nova laser at LLNL was decommissioned in 1997.62 For nearly 20 years, CUOS and FOCUS was a unique and well-recognized incubator for multidisciplinary research, accruing singular achievements such as the record highest focused intensity of 1022 W/cm2.63 In addition to its research, it had a major impact on workforce development producing more than 150 Ph.D. students. In addition, CUOS contributed to developing industries based on its discoveries and inventions. Five companies were spun off: Picometrix (fast detectors), Clark-MXR (scientific lasers and micromachining), Translume (waveguide optics), Arbor Photonics (high power fiber laser technology), and Intralase (precision surgery).
DOD interests have focused on the development of high-energy, continuous-wave lasers (HEL) with at least 10 kilowatts of average power. In these instances, the large share of funding has been directed towards prime contractors such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, General Atomics, Raytheon, and other, mostly smaller, companies. The DOD baseline performance requirements are robust, high-average-power lasers with good atmospheric transmission, now built on diode-pumped slab or fiber architectures.
A portion of that funding has also gone at times to government laboratories such as LLNL, Air Force Research Laboratory, Naval Research Laboratory, and Federal Contract Research Centers such as MIT Lincoln Laboratory. There has been an HEL Joint Technology Office (HEL-JTO) that has provided some coordination of the development by the DOD to try to minimize overlapping development by the services. Key successes for the HEL-JTO have included such programs as Joint High Power Solid-State Laser (JHPSSL), which scaled SSLs first to 25 kW and then to 100 kW, with good beam quality. These programs went entirely to industry. This achievement was particularly important because the 100 kW threshold had been viewed as a proof of principle for “weapons grade” power levels. Currently the armed services are contracting with industry to develop prototype laser systems for their platforms.
The DOD interest in the development of HILs in the United States is less clear. The panel is aware of an HIL built by National Energetics (U.S.) for the Kirkland Air
61 V. Yanovsky et al., “Ultra-High Intensity- 300-TW Laser at 0.1 Hz Repetition Rate.,” Optics Express 16, no. 3 (February 4, 2008): 2109–14, doi:10.1364/OE.16.002109.
62 M.D. Perry et al., “Petawatt Laser Pulses.”
63 S.-W. Bahk et al., “Generation and Characterization of the Highest Laser Intensities (1022 W/Cm2),” Optics Letters 29, no. 24 (December 15, 2004): 2837–39, doi:10.1364/OL.29.002837.
Force Base whose interests span extremely high peak electric fields, their nonlinear propagation, and their eventual interaction with different materials.
In recent years, DOD funding has been largely responsible for keeping U.S. academic HIL research afloat. University research has been funded through several mechanisms including Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and MURI programs as well as single-PI programs administered by the Air Force Research Laboratory, Army Research Office, and Office of Naval Research. An excellent example was the 2012 DARPA Program in Ultrafast Laser Science and Engineering (PULSE), which evaluated secondary sources driven by PW-class lasers, attosecond science, and frequency comb metrology.64 There have also been several MURI programs in ultrafast science and intense laser interactions, especially in the mid-infrared and long wave spectral regime. However, for the most part, single-PI grants have been the major source of support. These programs have been essential in maintaining a viable U.S. community that can compete on the international level. However, coordination of infrastructure and networks similar to Europe are grossly lacking, and these DOD programs are not sufficient as a U.S. strategy in HIL development and science.
2.5 COMMERCIAL INVESTMENT AND INVOLVEMENT IN HIGH-INTENSITY LASER COMPONENT DEVELOPMENT AT U.S. LASER LABORATORIES
DOE laboratories, particularly the weapons laboratories LLNL, LLE, and LANL, have done in-house development of custom laser systems for their own use and most recently also have competed for international contracts to build systems for ELI. The large contract-driven laser defense companies such as Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman are not players in the high-intensity laser area since the dominant funding has come from DOE, and the large DOE programs are not competitively bid. The relationship with large companies is far more well-established in the high energy weapons areas, where there are opportunities to manufacture lasers for field deployment rather than single lab facilities.
The DOE SC laboratories, particularly SLAC and LBNL, engage in a mix of in-house development and procurement. Relations with the commercial laser industry have been mixed. Their interactions with the laser industry have been nearly exclusively determined by small and mid-sized programs that either purchase laser products through Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC) procurement rules or build non-commercial lasers in-house. For example, accord-
64 A frequency comb describes the spectrum of any ultrafast laser oscillator: a spectral series of equally spaced narrow frequency spikes. If stabilized it can be used as a frequency standard or as a time standard.
ing to FFRDC rules, laboratories may only perform work that falls within the mission or special competency of the lab and may not accept work that would place the lab in direct competition with domestic private industry.
The smaller laser science research centers such as the Texas Petawatt and the high-intensity lasers at Nebraska, Michigan, Ohio State, and elsewhere rely on commercial components and some commercial systems integration. Their funding to purchase these systems often comes from instrument programs that are closely tied to the science areas the lasers will serve. Therefore these centers cannot afford in-house research and development (R&D) at the same level as the large DOE laboratories.
Some members of the U.S. laser commercial manufacturing community have reported concerns to the committee that U.S. National Laboratories are permitted to engage in laser development efforts where they are necessary to carry out their missions, and in some cases this leads to direct competition with private industry commercial R&D. These concerns are amplified by the perception that European national laboratories are more open to partnerships with European laser manufacturers, thereby effectively subsidizing foreign competitors for the global market in custom advanced laser systems. Unsurprisingly, the U.S. company representatives who reported this to the committee find this asymmetry unfair, and they also point out that this policy is at odds with the need to develop and retain high technical capabilities in strategic interest areas in the United States.
The committee requested clarification on these points from the DOE laboratories engaged in projects that require advancing the state of the art in laser technology. They confirm that the relevant FFRDC rules that the laboratories must follow give no specific mandate to steward the development of high-intensity laser technologies in private industry. Any help they give to private industry is simply in support of their science and facilities missions. It is worth noting, however, that these laboratories do offer various direct funding mechanisms for industry through programs such as the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR).65 The laboratories that the committee contacted all support these programs. Another important industrial partnership opportunity is the Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA).66 This is a collaborative research agreement between the laboratory and another entity for their mutual benefit. CRADAs are not grants; they must include monetary or in-kind contributions from both sides.
Difficulties about this occur when a laboratory project requires a not-yet-commercialized instrument or technology, but one that might have commercial value
once it is developed. Cost, risk, and schedule then may lead the laboratory to use agency funds to develop the needed instrument in-house. However, the same laser technologies are likely to be applicable, for example, to the markets being targeted by high-tech small U.S. laser companies. The company might then be attempting to attract strategic private capital for similar product development, and thus the laboratory will be in competition with private industry to develop the same thing.
Clearly this is a source of tension between industry and the laboratories. The laboratories appear to interpret the non-compete provision narrowly to mean that they should not develop what they could acquire more efficiently. Should the laboratories undertake R&D, or should research be contracted out, and how is this determined? Here is an area where a more coordinated view of stewardship could be useful.
A rather different situation occurs when a DOE laboratory agrees to take non-DOE funds to perform what is called “work for others.” This is called a Strategic Partnership Project (SPP). The idea is to provide access for non-DOE entities to unique expertise not available in the private sector. Here the review and approval process for any SPP agreement includes a specific determination that the work requires unique laboratory capability.
In either case, the decision to make versus buy within the project is an explicit part of the acquisition process. This topic is covered in requirements reviews, procurement reviews, and design reviews. Acquisition professionals with expertise in the industries and technologies needed for the project, in concert with knowledgeable scientists and engineers, conduct supplier-base evaluations. The evaluations assess project risks (cost, schedule, performance) based on the maturity of both the proposed design and the industrial supplier base.
Table 2.1 addresses the commercial sources and viability of key components needed for construction of PW-class lasers and high-intensity free-electron lasers.
There are two general categories of components in this list. The first are items that have uses in other applications, notably large-volume businesses, where the suppliers are spread worldwide. The second are items that are only found in high-peak-power or intense sources. Here, there can be problems in establishing or maintaining a viable business, as sales tend to be highly variable and depend on the construction of systems for large facilities. Notable in this category are large-aperture components, such as Nd:glass, Ti:sapphire, and nonlinear crystals. Vendors of these have to establish a worldwide sales force to sustain a business. In some cases, special components such as large-aperture gratings might be placed on restricted export lists. In general, the effect of restrictions is to spur local development of the component in countries, such as China, that have strong technology support and capabilities.
TABLE 2.1 Commercial Sources and Viability of Key Components Needed for Construction of PW-Class Lasers and High-Intensity Free-Electron Lasers
|Large Nd:glass slabs||Schott Glass||US||Limited market, Hoya in Japan exited business|
|Large-aperture Ti:sapphire crystals||Crystal Systems||US||Parent company is in Chapter 11, Crytur in Czech Republic developing capability|
|Large-aperture Yb:YAG crystals||Several||Japan, Czech Republic||Konoshima makes ceramic material but business is limited. Capabilities developing at Crytur in Czech Republic|
|Large-aperture LBO crystals||Multiple||Worldwide||Capabilities now in France, Russia, developing in China|
|Large-aperture KDP crystals||LLNL, Cleveland Crystals, others||Worldwide||Capabilities in Russia and China|
|Flashlamps||Multiple||Worldwide||Still viable business, includes replacements|
|High-power diode lasers||Multiple||Worldwide||Commercial driver is industrial, for materials processing|
|Large-aperture gratings||LLNL, Plymouth Gratings, Horiba Jobin Yvon||US, EU||Embargoed to China, likely leading to development there|
|High-damage-threshold coatings for optics||Multiple||Worldwide||Technology is widely diversified, as it can be applied to multiple uses|
|Free-electron laser undulators, and superconducting RF linacs||National Laboratories in the US, Japan, and Europe||Worldwide||Each linear accelerator is a custom installation. Much cooperation among national laboratories.|
|Linac klystrons||Commercial and laboratory||US, Japan||Megawatt-class klystrons are often laboratory-industry partnerships|
|X-ray optics||Fraunhofer, Zeiss, Horiba Jobin Yvon, SESO||EU||Verifiable surface quality|
The importance of a trained technical workforce in optics and photonics has been emphasized in several reports. It was stated as a prime motivation for the Obama Administration’s Integrated Photonics Initiative,67 the National Academies’ report on optics and photonics,68 the DOE Stockpile Stewardship programs,69 and the recent NSF report on optics and photonics.70 (See Figure 2.4)
Following the formation of the EU in 1993, a series of strategic investments began among EU nations. These investments aimed at capitalizing on scientific opportunities by organizing existing strengths, building on new strengths, promoting human mobility (workforce development) among EU nations, and stimulating economic development in the world market. The area of lasers and photonics was identified as one of five key enabling technologies essential for the scientific future and the socio-economic security of EU countries. High-intensity laser science was one area of focus since several EU nations had a long tradition of strength in this
67 The White House, “FACT SHEET.” last update December 21, 2016, https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2016/12/21/fact-sheet-obama-administration-announces-new-manufacturing-usa.
68 NRC, 2013, Optics and Photonics.
69 “Fiscal Year 2016 Stockpile Stewardship and Management Plan,” accessed January 8, 2017, https://nnsa.energy.gov/sites/default/files/FY16SSMP_FINAL%203_16_2015_reducedsize.pdf.
70 NSF MPSAC, “Report of the Optics and Photonics Subcommittee of the MPS Advisory Committee,” 2015, https://nsf.gov/mps/advisory/mpsac_other_reports/optics_and_photonics-final_from_subcommittee.pdf.
area. Prior to the EU involvement, national stewardship was the appropriate funding model. As in the United States, as the cost of conducting research in this area escalated, it became increasingly difficult to sustain a viable national effort. The EU federation presented an opportunity to coordinate these efforts and leverage individual national investments. As a consequence, European laboratories pursuing high-intensity science began to organize under EU stewardship while in the U.S. large-scale and “single-PI” efforts remained status quo. Even though the 1998 National Academies’ study on optics and photonics was largely ignored in the United States, it did provide an ideal roadmap for Europe.
One important element of EU stewardship was the formation of Laserlab-Europe, an integrated initiative of European research infrastructure. The objectives were to (1) maintain a competitive, interdisciplinary network of European national laboratories; (2) strengthen Europe’s leading role in laser research by pushing the laser concept into new directions and opening new applications of key importance in research and innovation; (3) offer transnational access to top-quality laser research facilities in a coordinated fashion for the benefit of the European research community; and (4) broaden the base in laser research and applications by reaching out to neighboring scientific communities and by assisting in the development of laser research infrastructure on both the national and the European level.
Established in 2001, the consortium currently consists of 33 leading institutions from 16 EU countries. Laserlab-Europe coordinates a peer-reviewed proposal process open to researchers from academia, national laboratories, and industry. In its current manifestation, Laserlab operates on an annual budget of €10 million. The funding supports the users and associated facility infrastructure. Laserlab-Europe has been highly successful for promoting scientific discovery and human mobility, as well as initiating new European projects.
As Laserlab-Europe developed and provided access to state-of-the-art high-intensity laser facilities, several EU funding programs were established to promote the formation of scientific groups distributed throughout EU countries. These programs’ primary purposes were to push the frontiers of science, train young scientists, and mobilize human capital.
Currently, Horizon 2020 is the biggest EU Research and Innovation program ever with nearly €80 billion of funding available over 7 years (2014 to 2020), in addition to the private investment that this project will attract. It promises more breakthroughs, discoveries, and world firsts by taking great ideas from the laboratory to the market. The goal is to ensure that Europe produces world-class science, removes barriers to innovation, and makes it easier for the public and private sectors to work together in delivering innovation.
The lack of U.S. stewardship in the HIL area is particularly dire, especially in comparison with Europe, in the area of commercial activity. In recent years, EU support has resulted in a steady stream of start-up laser companies in the area
of high-intensity laser technology. This is driven by a number of mechanisms: significant research funding in intense laser areas at universities and at research institutes, as well as equipment purchase funding at national laboratories, both for standard commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) lasers and for higher-risk development projects; and joint university-industry research centers such as the Fraunhofer Institutes provide substantial government support for industry-directed projects. This contrasts with the situation in the United States, where the government supports virtually no stand-alone laser development work, but rather all such work is justified as a small part of a larger scientific project. The more favorable situation in Europe has resulted in a proliferation of companies in Europe in various areas of advanced laser technologies: One-five, Class-Five lasers, Thales Lasers, Amplitude Systemes, Amplitude Technologies, Laser Quantum/Venteon, Expla, Light Conversion, FASTLITE, Menlo Systems, and TRUMPF Scientific Lasers. Ironically, several European companies (Femtolasers, Time-bandwidth Products, Lumera Laser) have been purchased by U.S. companies (Newport, JDSU, and Coherent, respectively); however, the result has been a shift of the center of gravity of these companies away from the United States—for example, Coherent’s (California headquarters) workforce was already comparable or larger in Germany compared with the United States before announcing its intent to acquire of Germany-based Rofin—a company comparable in size to Coherent.
The ELI project uses infrastructure funds from the EU to construct the laboratories, but a different mechanism is required to fund the operations and carry out the research. Here the European model is called ELItrans. This is a 3-year €3.4 million project to make the transition from building to operating. Details are to be found in the European Union project document for ELItrans.71
Several reports were published at the turn of the new millennium that identified the scientific opportunities enabled by high-intensity lasers, the relevance to national security, and the need for stewardship and federal agency coordination. These reports represented the combined efforts of the scientific and science policy communities. Here the committee mentions four specific reports, with a synopsis
71 EU Community Research and Development Information Service, “ELITRANS-Facilitating the transformation of ELI from ERDF funded, distributed infrastructures towards a unified ELI-ERIC,” last update November 5, 2015, http://cordis.europa.eu/project/rcn/199115_en.html.
of two that address fundamental questions of matter under extreme conditions, and a more detailed summary of two that address policy issues: the 2002 Science and Applications of Ultrafast Lasers (SAUUL) report and the 2007 Interagency Task Force report.
As agencies pursue multi-year policies designed to promote their scientific missions, community-based reports such as these provide vital continuing assessments to assure agency accountability to the public and to the science community. This accountability function underscores the importance of study recommendations 1 and 2 (Section 7.2).
This report identifies the rapidly emerging field of high energy density science as a key in developing an understanding of physics of extreme astrophysical environments. Laboratory-based plasma science driven by high-intensity lasers is recognized as one of the primary tools for addressing these questions. The report strongly endorses enhanced exploration of laboratory high energy density plasmas and recommends federal interagency cooperation to fully exploit the available scientific opportunities.72
In this report key scientific questions are surveyed, and a number of disparate activities are united into an overall framework. The report also pointed out the interdisciplinary (and interagency) nature of the field and provided specific recommendations to strengthen the field.73
An early prognosticator of the impending international landscape in high-intensity lasers was the 2002 report entitled the Science and Applications of Ultrafast, Ultraintense Lasers: Opportunities in Science and Technology Using the Brightest Light
72 NRC, 2003, Connecting Quarks with the Cosmos: Eleven Science Questions for the New Century, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C.
73 NRC, 2003, Frontiers in High Energy Density Physics: The X-Games of Contemporary Science, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C.
Known to Man, also known as the SAUUL report.74 The report came from a grassroots effort by U.S. scientists that anticipated that the extraordinary advances in high-intensity laser technology in the 1990s would enable extraordinary scientific and technological advances. Readiness to exploit these opportunities would require technological needs and most importantly, a community and federal coordination for developing strategies and stewardship that would leverage interagency investments. The report encapsulated the discussions of a workshop that was held during June 17-19, 2002, in Washington, D.C. The workshop was attended by academic, industrial, and government laboratory scientists and supported by the DOE Offices of BES and FES, the NNSA Office of Defense Programs, and the NSF Division of Physics.
18.104.22.168 Summary of the SAUUL Report
The study identified five areas where opportunities for major breakthroughs exist for high-intensity lasers: fusion energy, compact particle accelerators, ultrafast X-ray generation, high energy density physics (HEDP), and attosecond science. After assessing the state of these areas, four key findings were reached:
- High-intensity laser science was the fastest growing subfield of basic and applied research in the United States, Europe, and Japan.
- The application of high-intensity lasers has evolved into a broad and interdisciplinary endeavor from its early inception.
- The state of the art of laser technology enabling these applications is more complex and expensive than in the past.
- U.S. leadership in this field requires a new mode of community and federal organization.
22.214.171.124 The SAUUL Model for Future Coordination in U.S. High-Intensity Laser Technology and Science
The report concludes that the United States has been a traditional leader in high-intensity lasers. However, moving into the future, the complexity and expense of the infrastructure is not consistent with established modes of federal funding. The maintenance and operation of these high-intensity lasers has grown beyond the means of single PIs with university-based programs. In addition, national
74 P. Bucksbaum, T. Ditmire, L. Di Mauro, J. Eberly, R. Freeman, M. Key, W. Leemans, D. Meyerhofer, G. Mourou, and M. Richardson, 2002, The Science and Applications of Ultrafast Lasers: Opportunities in Science and Technology Using the Brightest Light Known to Man, presented at the SAUUL Workshop, Washington, D.C., June 17-19.
laboratories’ mission is stewardship of more complex facilities, but this precludes access to the broader user community to drive applications or transfer technology to commercial enterprises. Furthermore, the sizes of high-intensity laser facilities (mid-scale) may be below the threshold for major national laboratory projects such as accelerator-based sources. The report recognized that since high-intensity laser science spans a large number of subfields, no single federal agency has responsibility for this field as a whole, which poses a threat for U.S. leadership.
The SAUUL report envisioned a small number of U.S. centers or nodes distributed among universities and national laboratories, as illustrated in Figure 6.5. For example, university facilities can provide unrestricted access while co-location at large-scale national facilities could provide unique scientific opportunities. The centers will provide both critical mass of expertise and the resources to maintain essential facilities for the community, analogous to Laserlab Europe. Surrounding these facilities would be a network of users, i.e., a network of single-PI groups in different institutions, but with coordinated scientific thrusts. In this scenario, a particular network can compete for user time at any of the node center facilities. The main facilities and the networks could be supported by either a single agency or and agency consortium. In this model, the node/network will provide stability but also needed flexibility for rapidly emerging opportunities. The federal funding box in Figure 2.5 is a coordinated multi-agency body, which is non-existent in the United States.
In 2007, the Report of the Interagency Task Force on High Energy Density Physics was prepared under the auspices of the National Science and Technology Council Committee on Science Interagency Working Group on the Physics of the Universe. The charge was specific to HEDP—the study of matter subject to extreme conditions of temperature and density. The Interagency Working Group report was a direct response to the findings of the aforementioned reports. The task force identified that a key component of HEDP research is enabled by high-intensity lasers. Furthermore, HEDP research is necessary to accomplish specific scientific and national security missions of several federal agencies. The task force indicated that in spite of significant agency investments, the federal mechanism for stewarding fundamental research is poorly defined or nonexistent. The report emphasized the need to improve federal stewardship of HEDP, particularly the study of laboratory high-density plasmas, and strengthen the level of university activities. The report discussed HEDP relevance to federally funded missions, as well as action items to leverage federal priorities and needs.
The report enumerates several actions that would improve stewardship and advance research consistent with federal priorities and plans:
- SC and NNSA within DOE would establish a joint HEDP program responsible for stewarding fundamental high energy density laboratory plasma science.
- The joint program would be developed with the active participation and input from the scientific community and solicited by DOE.
- The joint program will develop a coordinated strategic plan for a national program in consultation with NSF.
- NNSA would develop a management process to provide access to its major facilities by users external to the NNSA complex.
These recommendations for a more coordinated national plan were echoed throughout this and other reports. Unfortunately, many of the recommendations were ignored in this country, while national and international coordination outside of the United States was intensive.