Lawrence Livermore Achieves Fusion Ignition Using MATLAB

National Ignition Facility Automates Entire Ignition Process

“The ignition process looks simple but it’s actually very complicated to get it to this precision. We used MATLAB to automate the whole process.”

Key Outcomes

  • MATLAB enabled automation of deuterium–tritium fabrication to extremely precise specifications
  • Image Acquisition Toolbox™ helped in the decision-making process to advance fuel fabrication
  • MATLAB in conjunction with Java® enabled communication and synchronization between different subsystems

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is a multidisciplinary research facility home to the National Ignition Facility (NIF). NIF uses the world’s most powerful lasers to attempt to recreate the energy process powering our sun: nuclear fusion.

A key part of this process is called “ignition,” which occurs when more energy is created by the fusion process than was used to start it. NIF first achieved fusion in December 2022.

However, achieving ignition depends on many extremely precise measurements and processes, including how the deuterium-tritium fuel packet is created. Researchers at NIF are using MATLAB® to help automate the steps involved in this process.

MATLAB is used throughout the ignition process from creating the fuel to beginning an ignition attempt. Scripts using MATLAB contribute to image acquisition and analysis, communication between subsystems (including temperature controls and camera servers), and final quality control checks for minor defects that may jeopardize an ignition attempt.