The United States Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration has agreed to support the University of Rochester’s Laboratory for Laser Energetics with $279.9 million in funds for three fiscal years, beginning in 2020.

Adding to previously executed agreements, including $80 million that the LLE already received for fiscal 2019, this makes possible a total funding level of $409.9 million for fiscal years 2020 to 2023 —a record amount authorized for the lab in a five-year period. Each year’s level is dependent on the NNSA’s annual budget cycle and the available funds that year.

J. Adam Fenster / University of Rochester

Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a semi-autonomous agency within the DOE with core missions to maintain the nuclear stockpile, monitor and promote nonproliferation, power the nuclear Navy, and respond to nuclear and radiological emergencies.

The LLE is the largest university-based US Department of Energy program in the nation and is home to the OMEGA laser, the most energetic laser system found at any academic institution.

According to LLE Director Michael Campbell, the renewed NNSA agreement is a great expression of the agency’s long-term support for LLE and helps ensure that the lab’s leading role in fusion, high-energy-density science, and advanced high-intensity lasers and optics will continue in Rochester.

The LLE was established with funding from the University of Rochester, New York state, and private industry. With growing support from the Department of Energy beginning in 1975, the LLE operates the National Laser Users Facility and attracts as many as 500 additional scientists each year from national laboratories, universities, and companies from the United States and other nations. In addition to its vital roles in various areas of scientific research and its support of the local high-tech economy, the LLE also plays an important part in educating the next generation of scientists and engineers; because it is located on a university campus, undergraduates and even area high school students are able to benefit from its resources and programs.