Construction of the National Ignition Facility began in 1997 but was fraught with problems and ran into a series of delays that greatly slowed progress into the early 2000s. Progress through the 2000s was much smoother, but compared to initial estimates, NIF was completed five years behind schedule and was almost four times more expensive than budgeted. The construction of the National Ignition Facility was certified complete on 31 March 2009 by the U.S. Department of Energy, and a dedication ceremony took place on 29 May 2009. The first large-scale laser target experiments were performed in June 2009 and the first integrated ignition experiments were declared competed in October 2010
NIF’s basic layout. The laser pulse is generated in the room just right of center, and is sent into the beamlines (blue) on either side. After several passes through the beamlines the light is sent into the “switchyard” (red) where it is aimed into the target chamber (The National Ignition Facility, or NIF, is a laser-basedinertial confinement fusion (ICF) research device located at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, California. NIF uses powerful lasers to heat and compress a small amount of hydrogen fuel to the point where nuclear fusion reactions take place. NIF is the largest and most energetic ICF device built to date, and the first that is expected to reach the long-sought goal of “ignition”, producing more energy than was put in to start the reaction.