Mike is the Director of the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS), an internationally leading research facility, operated by Stanford University on behalf of the US Department of Energy, open to users from around the world. He is an Associate Laboratory Director of the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, and a full Professor of Photon Science at Stanford University.
LCLS represents a revolution in x-ray science. The x-rays produced by LCLS are a billion times brighter than can be produced by conventional sources, such as a synchrotron, and are delivered in ultrafast bursts - typically a few tens of femtoseconds (10^-15 seconds). This opens up transformational opportunities for the study of structural biology, quantum materials, ultrafast chemistry, and novel states of matter. Since its initial operation in 2009, LCLS has enabled a remarkable series of studies, via its ability to provide atomic resolution information, with freeze-frame ‘movies’ of how atomic, chemical and biological systems evolve on ultrafast timescales.
From 2010-2014, Mike was the Director for Laser Fusion Energy at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). His role was to ensure full advantage is taken of the National Ignition Facility (NIF), a $3.5 billion investment designed to demonstrate net fusion energy production. At LLNL, Mike also held the role of Program Director for high average power laser development, initiating a number of projects including the High Average power Petawatt Laser System (HAPLS), for the newly constructed ELI-Beamlines laser facility near Prague.
Mike was Director of the United Kingdom’s Central Laser Facility (CLF) from 2005-2010, working for the Science and Technology Facilities Council. The CLF is home to the world's most intense laser facilities, with science programs ranging from biomedical research and ultrafast material science, to the pursuit of a new generation of miniaturized particle accelerators. In 2008 he took on additional responsibility as Director of the Photon Science Department, developing coupled laser and accelerator facilities; pursuit of next-generation Free Electron Laser sources; and oversight of the final phase of the UK’s Synchrotron Radiation Source (SRS). This entailed senior management of a staff of ~150 people at both the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and the Daresbury Laboratory. Mike was the International Project Leader for the European project ‘HiPER’, for which he created a consortium of 26 institutions across 10 countries.
Prior to this he worked for the UK Government at AWE Aldermaston, leading their plasma science research group. He played a major role in establishing the scope and mission of AWE’s new “ORION” laser facility (~250 M$) to preserve the UK’s national capability in this important area of strategic deterrence. From there he moved into a position developing the organization’s strategy and assessment of the overall national technical capability to meet the demands of future missions.
Mike’s personal research interests are in the development and application of high power lasers to high energy-density science and laboratory astrophysics. He has substantial experience in the design, construction, operation and exploitation of a wide variety of photon science research facilities.
Mike obtained his doctorate in plasma physics from Imperial College, London. He has received a number of international awards and is the author of over 180 technical papers, 11 patent applications, 60 invited talks, and over 80 press/media reports for the general public.
Professor, Photon Science Directorate
Director, Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS), SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory (2014 - Present)
Associate Laboratory Director (ALD), SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory (2014 - Present)
PhD, Imperial College, London, Plasma Physics (1995)
Current Research and Scholarly Interests
The Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) is the world's first X-Ray Free Electron Laser. It represents a revolution in x-ray science. The x-rays produced by LCLS are a billion times brighter than can be produced by conventional sources, such as a synchrotron, and are delivered in ultrafast bursts - typically a few tens of femtoseconds (10^-15 seconds).
This opens up transformational opportunities for the study of structural biology, quantum materials, ultrafast chemistry, and novel states of matter. Since its initial operation in 2009, LCLS has enabled a remarkable series of studies, via its ability to provide atomic resolution information, with freeze-frame ‘movies’ of how atomic, chemical and biological systems evolve on ultrafast timescales.
Based on this success, a billion-dollar upgrade project is now underway that will increase the repetition rate by 4 orders of magnitude (from 120 Hz to 1 MHz), opening up entirely new scientific opportunities.
Access to LCLS is open to everyone, based purely on the scientific merit of the proposed experiments.
- X-ray free-electron lasers light up materials science NATURE REVIEWS MATERIALS 2018; 3 (9): 290–92
- The Linac Coherent Light Source: Recent Developments and Future Plans APPLIED SCIENCES-BASEL 2017; 7 (8)
The Linac Coherent Light Source
JOURNAL OF SYNCHROTRON RADIATION
2015; 22: 472-476
The Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory was the first hard X-ray free-electron laser (FEL) to operate as a user facility. After five years of operation, LCLS is now a mature FEL user facility. Our personal views about opportunities and challenges inherent to these unique light sources are discussed.
View details for DOI 10.1107/S1600577515005196
View details for Web of Science ID 000353920300002
View details for PubMedID 25931055
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4416663
LIFE TRITIUM PROCESSING: A SUSTAINABLE SOLUTION FOR CLOSING THE FUSION FUEL CYCLE
FUSION SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
2013; 64 (2): 187-193
View details for Web of Science ID 000322939200018
LIFE: A SUSTAINABLE SOLUTION FOR DEVELOPING SAFE, CLEAN FUSION POWER
2013; 104 (6): 641-647
The National Ignition Facility (NIF) at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) in California is currently in operation with the goal to demonstrate fusion energy gain for the first time in the laboratory-also referred to as "ignition." Based on these demonstration experiments, the Laser Inertial Fusion Energy (LIFE) power plant is being designed at LLNL in partnership with other institutions with the goal to deliver baseload electricity from safe, secure, sustainable fusion power in a time scale that is consistent with the energy market needs. For this purpose, the LIFE design takes advantage of recent advances in diode-pumped, solid-state laser technology and adopts the paradigm of Line Replaceable Units used on the NIF to provide high levels of availability and maintainability and mitigate the need for advanced materials development. The LIFE market entry plant will demonstrate the feasibility of a closed fusion fuel cycle, including tritium breeding, extraction, processing, refueling, accountability, and safety, in a steady-state power-producing device. While many fusion plant designs require large quantities of tritium for startup and operations, a range of design choices made for the LIFE fuel cycle act to reduce the in-process tritium inventory. This paper presents an overview of the delivery plan and the preconceptual design of the LIFE facility with emphasis on the key safety design principles being adopted. In order to illustrate the favorable safety characteristics of the LIFE design, some initial accident analysis results are presented that indicate potential for a more attractive licensing regime than that of current fission reactors.
View details for DOI 10.1097/HP.0b013e31828d2fab
View details for Web of Science ID 000318483900012
View details for PubMedID 23629070
Lead (Pb) Hohlraum: Target for Inertial Fusion Energy
Recent progress towards demonstrating inertial confinement fusion (ICF) ignition at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) has sparked wide interest in Laser Inertial Fusion Energy (LIFE) for carbon-free large-scale power generation. A LIFE-based fleet of power plants promises clean energy generation with no greenhouse gas emissions and a virtually limitless, widely available thermonuclear fuel source. For the LIFE concept to be viable, target costs must be minimized while the target material efficiency or x-ray albedo is optimized. Current ICF targets on the NIF utilize a gold or depleted uranium cylindrical radiation cavity (hohlraum) with a plastic capsule at the center that contains the deuterium and tritium fuel. Here we show a direct comparison of gold and lead hohlraums in efficiently ablating deuterium-filled plastic capsules with soft x rays. We report on lead hohlraum performance that is indistinguishable from gold, yet costing only a small fraction.
View details for DOI 10.1038/srep01453
View details for Web of Science ID 000316102600003
View details for PubMedID 23486285
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3596797
LIFE: THE CASE FOR EARLY COMMERCIALIZATION OF FUSION ENERGY
FUSION SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
2011; 60 (1): 66-71
View details for Web of Science ID 000293420200009
LIFE PURE FUSION TARGET DESIGNS: STATUS AND PROSPECTS
FUSION SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
2011; 60 (1): 49-53
View details for Web of Science ID 000293420200006
TIMELY DELIVERY OF LASER INERTIAL FUSION ENERGY (LIFE)
FUSION SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
2011; 60 (1): 19-27
View details for Web of Science ID 000293420200004
COMPACT, EFFICIENT LASER SYSTEMS REQUIRED FOR LASER INERTIAL FUSION ENERGY
FUSION SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
2011; 60 (1): 28-48
View details for Web of Science ID 000293420200005
- Investigations of laser-driven radiative blast waves in clustered gases ELSEVIER SCIENCE BV. 2010: 274–79
Fusion's bright new dawn
2010; 23 (5): 28–33
View details for Web of Science ID 000278089300031
The New Fast Ignitor Oriented Target Area in the Vulcan Laser at the CLF
2nd International Conference on Ultra-Intense Laser Interaction Science
AMER INST PHYSICS. 2010: 35–38
View details for Web of Science ID 000283180100009
- Recent fast electron energy transport experiments relevant to fast ignition inertial fusion NUCLEAR FUSION 2009; 49 (10)
Full-trajectory diagnosis of laser-driven radiative blast waves in search of thermal plasma instabilities
PHYSICAL REVIEW LETTERS
2008; 100 (5): 055001
Experimental investigations into the dynamics of cylindrical, laser-driven, high-Mach-number shocks are used to study the thermal cooling instability predicted to occur in astrophysical radiative blast waves. A streaked Schlieren technique measures the full blast-wave trajectory on a single-shot basis, which is key for observing shock velocity oscillations. Electron density profiles and deceleration parameters associated with radiative blast waves were recorded, enabling the calculation of important blast-wave parameters including the fraction of radiated energy, epsilon, as a function of time for comparison with radiation-hydrodynamics simulations.
View details for DOI 10.1103/PhysRevLett.100.055001
View details for Web of Science ID 000253019600036
View details for PubMedID 18352379
- Relativistic laser-matter interaction: from attosecond pulse generation to fast ignition IOP PUBLISHING LTD. 2007: B667–B675
A route to the brightest possible neutron source?
2007; 315 (5815): 1092–95
We review the potential to develop sources for neutron scattering science and propose that a merger with the rapidly developing field of inertial fusion energy could provide a major step-change in performance. In stark contrast to developments in synchrotron and laser science, the past 40 years have seen only a factor of 10 increase in neutron source brightness. With the advent of thermonuclear ignition in the laboratory, coupled to innovative approaches in how this may be achieved, we calculate that a neutron source three orders of magnitude more powerful than any existing facility can be envisaged on a 20- to 30-year time scale. Such a leap in source power would transform neutron scattering science.
View details for DOI 10.1126/science.1127185
View details for Web of Science ID 000244387600027
View details for PubMedID 17322053
- Investigating the astrophysical applicability of radiative and non-radiative blast wave structure in cluster media SPRINGER. 2007: 139–45
- Colliding blast waves driven by the interaction of a short-pulse laser with a gas of atomic clusters SPRINGER. 2007: 131–37
Laser-driven particle accelerators
2006; 312 (5772): 374–76
View details for PubMedID 16627728
- A high-power laser fusion facility for Europe NATURE PHYSICS 2006; 2 (1): 2–5
- Multimode seeded Richtmyer-Meshkov mixing in a convergent, compressible, miscible plasma system AMER INST PHYSICS. 2003: 1816–21
- Observation of mix in a compressible plasma in a convergent cylindrical geometry PHYSICS OF PLASMAS 2002; 9 (11): 4431–34
Direct observation of strong coupling in a dense plasma
PHYSICAL REVIEW E
2002; 66 (4): 046408
We present differential x-ray scattering cross sections for a radiatively heated plasma showing overall consistency, in both form and absolute value, with theoretical simulations. In particular, the evolution of the plasma from a strongly coupled high density phase to a lower density weakly coupled phase is quite clearly shown in both experiment and simulation. The success of this experiment shows that x-ray scattering has the potential to become an extremely useful diagnostic technique for dense plasma physics.
View details for DOI 10.1103/PhysRevE.66.046408
View details for Web of Science ID 000179176300090
View details for PubMedID 12443331
Indirect-drive inertial confinement fusion using highly supersonic, radiatively cooled, plasma slugs
PHYSICAL REVIEW LETTERS
2002; 88 (23)
We present a new approach to indirect-drive inertial confinement fusion which makes use of highly supersonic, radiatively cooled, slugs of plasma to energize a hohlraum. 2D resistive magnetohydrodynamic simulations of slug formation in shaped liner Z-pinch implosions are presented along with 2D-radiation-hydrodynamic simulations of the slug impacting a converter foil and 3D-view-factor simulations of a double-ended hohlraum. Results for the Z facility at Sandia National Laboratory indicate that two synchronous slugs of 250 kJ kinetic energy could be produced, resulting in a capsule surface temperature of approximately 225 eV.
View details for DOI 10.1103/PhysRevLett.88.235001
View details for Web of Science ID 000175860500031
View details for PubMedID 12059369
AWE experimental laser plasma program
5th Zababakhin Scientific Meeting
CAMBRIDGE UNIV PRESS. 2000: 213–18
View details for Web of Science ID 000167290100010
- Production of enhanced pressure regions due to inhomogeneities in inertial confinement fusion targets AMER INST PHYSICS. 2000: 2007–13
- Turbulent hydrodynamics experiments using a new plasma piston AMER INST PHYSICS. 2000: 2099–2107
- Shock structuring due to fabrication joints in targets PHYSICS OF PLASMAS 1999; 6 (8): 3327–36
- Computational study of laser imprint mitigation in foam-buffered inertial confinement fusion targets PHYSICS OF PLASMAS 1998; 5 (1): 211–21
- EVALUATION OF A FOAM BUFFER TARGET DESIGN FOR SPATIALLY UNIFORM ABLATION OF LASER-IRRADIATED PLASMAS PHYSICAL REVIEW LETTERS 1995; 75 (21): 3858–61
- USE OF X-RAY PREHEATED FOAM LAYERS TO REDUCE BEAM STRUCTURE IMPRINT IN LASER-DRIVEN TARGETS PHYSICAL REVIEW LETTERS 1995; 74 (15): 2961–64
- SUPERSONIC PROPAGATION OF AN IONIZATION FRONT IN LOW-DENSITY FOAM TARGETS DRIVEN BY THERMAL-RADIATION PHYSICAL REVIEW LETTERS 1994; 73 (1): 74–77
- EXPERIMENTAL-OBSERVATIONS OF THE EXPANSION OF AN OPTICAL-FIELD-INDUCED IONIZATION CHANNEL IN A GAS-JET TARGET PHYSICAL REVIEW LETTERS 1994; 72 (7): 1024–27
- EXPERIMENTAL-MEASUREMENT OF THE DYNAMICS OF FOIL TARGETS UNDER THE IMPACT OF INTENSE PULSES OF SOFT-X RADIATION PHYSICAL REVIEW LETTERS 1993; 71 (21): 3477–80
- TIME RESOLVED SOFT-X-RAY IMAGING WITH SUBMICRON SPATIAL-RESOLUTION (INVITED) AMER INST PHYSICS. 1992: 4818–22
- TIME-RESOLVED MEASUREMENT OF X-RAY HEATING IN PLASTIC FOILS IRRADIATED BY INTENSE SOFT-X-RAY PULSES PHYSICAL REVIEW LETTERS 1991; 67 (27): 3780–83