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Fusion Breakthrough Presentation by Dr. Andrea “Annie” Kritcher

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A keynote presentation co-hosted by the Stanford University Aero/Astro’s 2024 FutureLeaders in Aerospace Symposium and the Stanford-SLAC Workshop on Extreme Energy

Event Details:


The Fusion Breakthrough at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

The inertial fusion community has been working towards ignition for decades, since the idea of inertial confinement fusion (ICF) was first proposed by Nuckolls, et al., in 1972.  On Dec 5th 2022, the Lawson criterion for ignition was met and more fusion energy was created than laser energy incident on the target at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) in Northern California.  Improvements to the target physics design and the laser driver  were made to increase the fusion energy output to > 3MJ from 2.05 MJ of laser energy on target, resulting in the first experiment to achieve target gain exceeding unity in a controlled laboratory setting.  These results proves that there is nothing fundamentally limiting controlled fusion energy gain in the laboratory and potentially harnessing fusion for a clean limitless source of energy.  Since then we have further increased fusion energy to 5.2 MJ and target gain to ~2.4x. The presentation will detail how more fusion energy was produced and ongoing work to improve on and use this milestone result.

Dr. Andrea "Annie" Kritcher

Dr. Annie Kritcher is the integrated modeling team lead within the inertial confinement fusion (ICF) program and the lead designer on Hybrid-E experiments, which recently achieved >5 MJ fusion yield and first ever fusion target gain in a laboratory.  Annie is also a group leader withing the design physics division line organization.

She earned her M.S. and Ph.D. in nuclear engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, and her B.S. from the Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences department at the University of Michigan.  Dr. Kritcher was first employed at the Lab as a summer intern in 2004, then as an LLNL Lawrence Scholar from 2005-2009 during her thesis at UC Berkeley, as a Lawrence postdoctoral fellow in 2009 following completion of her Ph.D, then as a member of technical staff in 2012.  Annie started out at LLNL in experimental physics measuring the plasma conditions of high energy density matter and studying nuclear plasma interactions.  She then transitioned to design staff during her career appointment, where she designed the first fusion ignition and target gain experiment ever achieved in a laboratory.  She won the John Dawson award for her work in creating a burning plasma 2022.

Annie is a fellow of the APS and was named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world in 2023.