Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s Andrea “Annie” Kritcher has been named to Time magazine’s TIME100 list of the 100 most influential people in the world.
Kritcher, a design physicist, was recognized for being the principal designer for the December 2022 National Ignition Facility experiment that produced nuclear fusion ignition in a laboratory for the first time.
Scientists fired 192 lasers at a target the size of a pencil eraser in the NIF experiment, achieving “energy breakeven,” which means it produced more energy than was used in the effort.
The first-of-its-kind breakthrough is considered a major step toward a net-zero carbon economy.
The laboratory said in a statement the breakthrough “paves the way for advancements in national defense and the future of inertial fusion energy.”
Kritcher leads the integrated modeling team within LLNL’s Inertial Confinement Fusion program and oversees the integrated modeling of indirect-drive fusion designs fielded at NIF.
Kritcher said in a statement the process was a team effort, involving decades of developing models using experimental data and making design improvements to the fusion experiments.
“Reaching ignition was truly a large effort carried through many decades,” Kritcher said. “I am extremely honored to be representing the laboratory and the many people who have worked on this grand scientific challenge to make this a reality, some of whom were working on this before I was born.”
Kritcher said the experiment was an essential first demonstration of fusion target energy gain in a controlled laboratory setting, which proved there is nothing fundamentally limiting harnessing fusion as a clean limitless energy source.
“I am extremely honored to be representing the laboratory and the many people who have worked on this grand scientific challenge to make this a reality, some of whom were working on this before I was born.”Annie Kritcher, LLNL design physicist
“Humanity is driven and motivated by impossible problems, such as creating a miniature star in the laboratory and harnessing the power of nuclear fusion, that once we start to crack, we can collectively achieve amazing things and make life better for all,” Kritcher said.
“This result is a monumental step for potential limitless clean energy and is also key capability in supporting our national security. This recognition proves that the world is watching and agrees on our mission.”
Kritcher started at the laboratory in 2004 as a summer intern. She competed her thesis work through LLNL and became a member of the technical staff in 2012.
In 2022, Kirtcher was selected as fellow of the American Physical Society for her “leadership in integrated hohlraum design physics leading to the creation of the first laboratory burning and igniting fusion plasma.”
Kritcher will be honored at the TIME100 Summit and Gala on April 26 at the Lincoln Center in New York City. The TIME100 list is in its 20th year, recognizing the “impact, innovation and achievement of the world’s most influential individuals.”