Laser Lab to receive highest level of funding in UR’s history at $80M
The Laboratory for Laser Energetics is slated to receive its highest level of federal funding in the University of Rochester’s history. After great uncertainty this past year LLE is expected to receive $80 million, a $5 million increase over fiscal 2018.
President Donald Trump is expected to sign the final FY 2018 Energy and Water bill into law shortly, which also includes $545 million for the Inertial Confinement Fusion program at the National Nuclear Security Administration. The ICF program supports three major, world-leading research facilities: the National Ignition Facility at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the Z Facility at Sandia National Laboratory and the OMEGA Laser Facility at the LLE. About 80 percent of ICF’s experiments are conducted at the LLE. In addition, the LLE is the National Nuclear Security Administration’s largest university program, providing a critical scientific pipeline.
In February, the Trump Administration proposed a $30 million cut to the LLE, a $126 million cut to the ICF program, and closing the LLE in three years. State lawmakers and others, including members of the scientific community helped reverse the proposal to shutter the laser lab.
UR president Richard Feldman noted that the LLE will continue “to serve as the largest university-based U.S. Department of Energy program in the nation and home to the largest and most powerful laser systems found at any academic institution in the entire world.”
The increased funding will serve as a critical basis for the first year of a new, five-year Cooperative Agreement between the LLE and the U.S. Department of Energy. The LLE is home to the DOE’s National Laser Users’ Facility, which brings scientists from across the country and the world to Rochester to use its facility. The LLE is also critical to maintaining the U.S. position in laser technology by increasing our scientific knowledge key to industrial progress and to non-nuclear defense applications. The LLE is also a recognized center for high-power lasers that have major impacts for national security, science, and advanced manufacturing.
As a result of federal and state support, the LLE has attracted more than $2.3 billion to the state since its inception to support cutting-edge research, jobs for the region’s optics, photonics and imaging industry and the creation of new companies. Since 2015 alone, the LLE has made more than $15.6 million in local purchases from over 50 companies across New York State. The spending of the LLE and its employees contributes to an additional 500 jobs for a total impact of about 850 jobs across the region, over $56 million of income to workers, and $3.7 million in revenue to state and local governments.