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June, 2019


www.us- tech.com


Integrating Cleaning into Critical Optical Applications


W


hen it comes to sensitive optics, whether used in astronomy, research or powerful laser applications, cleaning is required


to ensure accuracy and stability. Pristine optics are vital to a variety of applications, ranging from keeping missiles on track to ensuring the accuracy of laser systems used for exploring new sources of clean energy. Pristine optics require cleaning lenses with


the correct chemical baths with the appropriate media, whether with bench-type processing sta- tions or customized systems that enable thor- ough cleaning in place — without moving opti- cal devices to maintenance facilities. At Lawrence Livermore National


Laboratories (LLNL) in Livermore, California, optics are used as part of an ultra-powerful laser system to accomplish missions that are critical to national defense and performing “discovery science” research, such as discovering new sources of energy, and furthering high-energy-density science to better understand the workings of the cosmos. Those are the primary missions of NIF, LLNL’s National Ignition Facility (LLNL). Located east of San Francisco, in


Livermore, California, NIF is home to the world’s largest and highest-ener- gy laser system. This is a stadium- size apparatus, consisting of 192 laser beams that can focus nearly two mil- lion joules of energy and create tem- peratures and pressures that exist in the cores of stars and giant planets. By harnessing the massive power generated by its lasers, NIF is able to create conditions and conduct a wide range of experiments never before possible on earth. Each of NIF’s laser beams is


supported by an array of optics (lenses) — up to 50 lenses for each beam, depending on the type of experiment being performed. Main - tain ing the cleanliness of thousands of optics is crucial to the success of the various types of laser-based experiments.


“The cleanliness of our optics is crucial to our ability to provide maximum fluency (energy in joules).”


“If these lenses were not as clean


as possible, then we would start to degrade the performance of our laser,” explains Patrick Williams, NIF optics maintenance manager. “The cleanli- ness of our optics is crucial to our abil- ity to produce maximum fluency (energy in joules) that is required to perform many tests.” To maintain the large invento-


ry of optics required the develop- ment of a unique lens cleaning tool. In order to accomplish that task, LLNL partnered with JST Manufac - turing.


Transporting the Chemistry “The optics are heavy and


rather large, so we don’t want to handle them a lot,” Williams ex - plains. “So, after we developed an RFP and showed it to JST, they sug- gested that there might be an easier and more cost-effective way to trans- port, clean and inspect the optics. They came back from the drawing board with an original design, and then we tweaked it into a system that has worked for over 16 years.”


10:53


JST cleaning system for optics at LLNL. It includes a sling-like device to hold optics for technicians to rotate them during inspection.


By Ed Sullivan One of the innovations in the NIF cleaning


tool, which is a tank-like configuration, eliminates the need to move the optics to different locations in order to perform the washing, rinsing and drying functions. “Our engineers suggested that rather than


transport these heavy optics for such functions, we could simply transport the chemistry (solutions) to the optics in a fixed location,” explains Louise Bertagnolli, president of JST. “We also designed a sling-like device to hold the optics and also let tech- nicians rotate them during the inspection process.” To date, JST has built two cleaning tools for NIF. The first tool was used for the very beginning


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