Accurate modeling of thermal, mechanical and optical processes is important for achieving reliable, high-performance high energy lasers such as those at the National Ignition Facility  (NIF). The need for this capability is even more critical for high average power, high repetition rate applications. Modeling the effects of stresses and temperature fields on optical properties allows for optimal design of optical components and more generally of the architecture of the laser system itself. Stresses change the indices of refractions and induce inhomogeneities and anisotropy. We present a modern, integrated analysis tool that efficiently produces reliable results that are used in our laser propagation tools such as VBL . COMBINE is built on and supplants the existing legacy tools developed for the previous generations of lasers at LLNL but also uses commercially available mechanical finite element codes ANSYS or COMSOL (including computational fluid dynamics). The COMBINE code computes birefringence and wave front distortions due to mechanical stresses on lenses and slabs of arbitrary geometry. The stresses calculated typically originate from mounting support, vacuum load, gravity, heat absorption and/or attending cooling. Of particular importance are the depolarization and detuning effects of nonlinear crystals due to thermal loading. Results are given in the form of Jones matrices, depolarization maps and wave front distributions. An incremental evaluation of Jones matrices and ray propagation in a 3D mesh with a stress and temperature field is performed. Wavefront and depolarization maps are available at the optical aperture and at slices within the optical element. The suite is validated, user friendly, supported, documented and amenable to collaborative development. * COMBINE stands for Code for Opto-Mechanical Birefringence Integrated Numerical Evaluations.
The National Ignition Facility (NIF) at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is the first of a kind megajoule-class laser with 192 beams capable of delivering over 1.8 MJ and 500TW of 351nm light , . It has been commissioned and operated since 2009 to support a wide range of missions including the study of inertial confinement fusion, high energy density physics, material science, and laboratory astrophysics. In order to advance our understanding, and enable short-pulse multi-frame radiographic experiments of dense cores of cold material, the generation of very hard x-rays above 50 keV is necessary. X-rays with such characteristics can be efficiently generated with high intensity laser pulses above 1017 W/cm² . The Advanced Radiographic Capability (ARC)  which is currently being commissioned on the NIF will provide eight, 1 ps to 50 ps, adjustable pulses with up to 1.7 kJ each to create x-ray point sources enabling dynamic, multi-frame x-ray backlighting. This paper will provide an overview of the ARC system and report on the laser performance tests conducted with a stretched-pulse up to the main laser output and their comparison with the results of our laser propagation codes.