Advanced Laser Driver for Inertial Fusion Energy

Period of Performance: 01/01/2014 - 12/31/2014


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Aqwest LLC
8276 Eagle Road
Larkspur, CO 80118
Principal Investigator, Firm POC


IFE offers to tap almost unlimited sources of inexpensive energy. This new energy source would free the U.S. from the dependence on hydrocarbon fuels, the use of which produces green-house gases (GHG). The proposed EPDL laser driver would greatly advance the ICF maturity and its transition to commercial IFE for generation of electricity. Availability of low-cost and non-polluting electric power would revolutionize transportation and manufacturing sectors, thus boosting the overall economy. Reduced dependence on hydrocarbon fuels would also reduce to size overstated importance of hydrocarbon-producing countries, thus, improving geopolitical balance. The proposed technology also offers to advance laser acceleration of nuclear particles, thus replacing the traditional mammoth-size and costly accelerator research facilities with room-size devices. Compactness and relative simplicity of laser accelerators promises to greatly reduce the cost and timelines of high-energy research, and advance new scientific discoveries. As particle research could become affordable for universities or even commercial laboratories, the U.S. would be able to maintain leadership. Since 2008, Aqwest has been developing an innovative laser technology known as edge pumped disk laser (EPDL) for the US Army ultra-short pulse laser weapons. The proposed project will adapt the EPDL technology to laser acceleration, thus leveraging prior and current US Army investment. In Phase I, we will conduct engineering design, analysis, and fabricate an innovative composite laser crystal. In Phase II, we will construct and test an amplifier section of the drive laser for acceleration. EPDL also has major commercial applications ranging from laser material processing (cutting and welding), lidar, and lasercom for satellite communication. In particular, EPDL offers to displace and make obsolete the German thin disk laser, which has been the dominant technology for lasers in the kilowatt range for the last 10 years. The proposed project would greatly advance the realization of the inertial confinement fusion and its transition to commercial inertial fusion energy by using Aqwets innovative EPDL while leveraging prior and present Department of Defense investment.