A $42 million expansion at the University of Rochester’s Laboratory for Laser Energetics is expected to bolster its position as a national resource. The addition comes roughly two decades after the Laser Lab made space to house the OMEGA extended performance laser.
A three-floor building will house 100 scientists and personnel and include a class 1000 target fabrication lab and thin film coating lab, a laser computing facility, and several other wet lab and general lab spaces, officials say. The AMICA laser system, a high-energy, long-pulse laser that scientists at the LLE are assembling for Stanford University’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory Matter at Extreme Condition Upgrade, will occupy the largest lab space.
“The LLE’s work in high-energy-density science continues to grow with each new year, and now their physical footprint is catching up,” says UR president Sarah Mangelsdorf. “The addition of these state-of-the-art facilities helps strengthen the LLE’s designation as one of the leading laser laboratories in the world and will provide space to support its expanding research agenda.”
Established in 1970, LLE began as a center for the investigation of the interaction of intense radiation with matter. The lab is funded by the National Nuclear Security Administration as part of its Stockpile Stewardship Program. Research at the LLE is also funded by the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, the National Science Foundation, and New York.
The lab has consistently garnered support from lawmakers. For fiscal year 2022, Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and Rep. Joseph Morelle secured $82 million in the previous fiscal year and $80 million in fiscal 2020 and fiscal 2019. A few of them were present at the groundbreaking Wednesday.
As a nationally funded facility, the LLE conducts implosion and other experiments to assist a Department of Energy program to explore fusion as a future source of energy, UR says. It also works to develop new laser and materials technologies, conduct research and develop technology related to high-energy-density phenomena. Both graduate and undergraduate students in Rochester and at other institutions can learn there as well.
“LLE at the University of Rochester is privileged to be funded by the National Nuclear Security Administration through a cooperative agreement, which over the decades has resulted in hundreds of trained PhD students and amazing science and innovation for NNSA, documented in thousands of scientific papers,” says Christopher Deeney, director of LLE.
The expansion is expected to be completed in 2024. LeChase Construction began work last month.