Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s (LLNL) fusion breakthrough was featured on 60 Minutes, highlighting the work of the team at the laboratory’s National Ignition Facility (NIF).

On December 5, 2022, ignition was achieved at NIF when an experiment produced more energy than was put in. The success was recognized around the world as a huge step toward a clean energy future. Learn more about the breakthrough here.

The remains of the target used in the breakthrough on December 5, 2022 (Photo courtesy of 60 Minutes)

Click here to watch the 60 Minutes segment, hear from some of the key scientists, and see the tools and facilities used to achieve this breakthrough.

Highlighting the journey

Through one-on-one interviews with key lab leaders, the clip highlights the new approaches that contributed to their breakthrough.

LLNL Direct Kimberly Budil frames the perseverance of the Livermore team throughout decades of research, saying “This recent event put the ‘Ignition’ in NIF.” The 60 Minutes team was then shown through the facility by Tammy Ma, the lead for the Inertial Fusion Energy Initiative, as she explained the 192 lasers used to concentrate energy on the target.

NIF concentrates the beams of 192 powerful lasers on a pencil-eraser-sized capsule containing a hydrogen isotope. The heat and compression fuse the hydrogen, releasing tremendous energy for a fraction of a second. The experiments help serve the lab’s nuclear security mission as well as inform fusion research for energy production.

Partnership

“We’re honored to be associated with the laboratory and its mission and salute this tremendous achievement,” John Howanitz, president of Bechtel’s Nuclear, Security, and Environmental business unit, said when the announcement was released. “Creating an environment for breakthrough science requires collaboration and vision. We can’t wait to see what the lab does next.”

Bechtel co-manages LLNL with the University of California, providing project management, capital project execution, and business systems and services, and helping to create an environment in which research and national security science can thrive.