Zygo's Precision Optics Play Key Role in Nuclear Fusion Breakthrough that Could Lead to Unlimited Clean Energy

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) recently announced a successful inertial confinement fusion experiment that represents a giant leap forward in the realization of sustainable fusion energy.

Under Secretary for Nuclear Security and Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration Jill Hruby revealed a breakthrough net gain fusion reaction was recorded as part of an experiment undertaken at the National Ignition Facility (NIF). The experiment provides a scientific basis for a revolution in energy production, offering the potential for virtually unlimited safe and sustainable clean energy.

VIDEO: Scientists Make Breakthrough in Nuclear Fusion

The test involved bombarding a pellet of hydrogen plasma with the world's largest laser to trigger a nuclear fusion reaction, the same process that takes place in the sun. Achieving these heights of energy production required the NIF to use highly precise optics, developed in partnership with AMETEK business unit, Zygo Corporation, a global leader in the design and manufacture of advanced optical metrology systems and ultra-precise optical components and assemblies.

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.

Zygo's input is critical because the NIF's laser system is the only facility in the world that operates above the laser damage threshold requirements for optics. This means the laser damages Zygo's optics every time the NIF operates the laser, and they need to be replaced periodically.

"When we succeed and start building commercial power plants based on this technology, it will revolutionize the laser optics industry," said Christopher Stolz, Associate Program Manager for the Optics Production Group of the NIF. "Zygo will have played a huge role in that."

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