The Department of Energy has awarded Hensel Phelps Construction Co. of San Jose, CA, a $65.5 million contract to complete architectural build-out and finishing of the structure to house the National Ignition Facility (NIF), the world's largest laser. The contract is the largest single subcontract for the NIF construction project. The NIF is a stadium-sized, $1.2 billion, 192-beam laser complex now under construction at the DoE's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Slated for completion in 2003, the facility is expected to create brief bursts of self-sustaining fusion reactions similar to those occurring in the sun and stars. The resulting data will help the DoE maintain the safety and reliability of the nation's nuclear weapons stockpile without underground testing, while providing benefits in basic science, astrophysics and commercial fusion power production. For more information on the NIF, contact Gordon Yano, LLNL Public Affairs, at (510) 423-3117.
With a better understanding of materials’ response to load and temperature, researchers could potentially use the knowledge to improve design. The research could even help geologists studying plate tectonics.
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