Laser technology for the Orion facility


Laser technology for the Orion facility

Wed, 26/01/2022 - 15:00 to 16:00


Dr Nick Hopps

Laser technology for the Orion facility

The Orion laser facility at AWE Aldermaston is used to drive materials into extreme states to understand their properties. This work supports modelling of the UK’s nuclear deterrent in the absence of underground testing as well as other high energy density plasma physics, including laboratory astrophysics and nuclear fusion research.
The laser comprises ten beams optimised around 1ns pulses operating at 351nm and two beam petawatt CPA beamlines with 500fs pulses. Each beam delivers up to 500J of energy to the experiment. This talk will describe the broad range of laser technology that underpins the design of the facility and also some example experiments, to give a flavour of the work conducted. Evolving plans to ensure the long-term future of the facility are outlined.


Nick Hopps is AWE’s Technical Authority for lasers and a Visiting Professor of Laser Physics at Imperial College London. Following his PhD in solid state laser development, he worked on Orion’s predecessor facility at AWE, spent a period of secondment at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory working on NIF front-end design, and was then a key part of the team to design, build, commission and operate Orion, ultimately running the facility. He currently holds a broad role developing AWE’s strategy for large-scale scientific and engineering test infrastructure.