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We are carrying out a multidisciplinary multi-institutional program to develop the scientific and technical basis for inertial fusion energy (IFE) based on laser drivers and direct-drive targets. The key components are developed as an integrated system, linking the science, technology, and final application of a 1000-MWe pure-fusion power plant. The science and technologies developed here are flexible enough to be applied to other size systems. The scientific justification for this work is a family of target designs (simulations) that show that direct drive has the potential to provide the high gains needed for a pure-fusion power plant. Two competing lasers are under development: the diode-pumped solid-state laser (DPPSL) and the electron-beam-pumped krypton fluoride (KrF) gas laser. This paper will present the current state of the art in the target designs and lasers, as well as the other IFE technologies required for energy, including final optics (grazing incidence and dielectrics), chambers, and target fabrication, injection, and tracking technologies. All of these are applicable to both laser systems and to other laser IFE-based concepts. However, in some of the higher performance target designs, the DPPSL will require more energy to reach the same yield as with the KrF laser.
Date of Publication: April 2010