Nov 23

Dennis O'Brien's Lecture at UNH

Last week Dennis O’Brien the Chief Electronics Engineer of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) gave a very interesting talk in the CEPS Frontiers lecture series. LLNL is one of the premier applied physics laboratories in the world. Together with Los Alamos, it is in charge of managing the US nuclear stockpile. It also runs a host of projects in the fields of national security and energy research.

Mr. O’Brien is a distinguished alumnus of UNH CEPS. He earned his BSc and MSc at our university in ’75 and ’77 respectively. Since then he was working at LLNL on various projects and at many positions. Currently he is the Chief Electronics Engineer of LLNL in charge of workforce planning and development for over 1300 engineers and other personnel.

At the beginning of the talk, Mr. O’Brien gave a quick overview of LLNL and its stunning achievements. He then spent the rest of the lecture introducing the National Ignition Facility, one of their most interesting and most expensive projects. It is essentially a huge laser (500 terawatt!) covering the area of three football fields. Its purpose is to generate enough energy to start nuclear fusion, with hydrogen as fuel, in a confined place. The idea is to generate more energy with fusion than it took to produce the laser beams. If this process of ‘ignition’ succeeds it could be the basic principle of future fusion powered power plants.

It was great to have such an accomplished alumnus give a talk at UNH. I think current students and faculty were very much inspired by the example of Mr. O’Brien’s great career and accomplishments.


1 comment

  1. Andrew Kun

    I can’t believe the size of the NIF! This was a great talk.

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