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Fast ignition studies at Sandia National Laboratories

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USA Received 1 July 2005 Published 14 November 2005 Online at stacks. Numerical simulations of laser/plasma interaction. These results indicate that breakeven will require about 5% of the laser energy needed for ignition and might be an achievable goal with an upgraded Z-beamlet laser in short pulse mode.iop. In preparation for such experiments. Z-beamlet is currently being used to create multi-kiloelectronvolts photons for backlighting.INSTITUTE OF PHYSICS PUBLISHING Plasma Abstract Sandia National Laboratories is developing a combination of experimental and theoretical capabilities useful for the study of fast ignition physics. R B Campbell. R A Vesey. Analytic and numerical modelling has been performed to determine the conditions required for fast ignition breakeven scaling.1088/0741-3335/47/12B/S67 Fast ignition studies at Sandia National Laboratories S A Slutz. Z-beamlet could provide a maximum of ∼20 kJ of 1ω (1053 nm) light in four beams. The Z-beamlet laser is currently being used to create multi-kiloelectronvolts photons for backlighting. NM 87185-1186. D L Hanson. A highenergy petawatt capability is presently being added to the Z-beamlet to extend the backlighting x-ray energy up to 10–50 keV and to enable integrated fast ignition experiments. Using all of its amplifier chains. Introduction The initial test bed laser for the National Ignition Facility [1] was moved from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory to Sandia to become the Z-beamlet laser [2]. electron transport and ion generation are being performed. which can be used to diagnose the compression of deuterium/tritium to high densities. Presently.00 © 2005 IOP Publishing Ltd Printed in the UK B851 . Fusion 47 (2005) B851–B858 PLASMA PHYSICS AND CONTROLLED FUSION doi:10. Simulations of the compression of deuterium/tritium fuel in various geometries are being performed. 0741-3335/05/SB0851+08$30. the theory group at Sandia is modelling various aspects of fast ignition physics. (Some figures in this article are in colour only in the electronic version) 1. M E Cuneo and J L Porter Sandia National Laboratories. Albuquerque. We are also developing a capability to implode capsules filled with liquid deuterium/tritium. Z-beamlet delivers up to 2 TW of 2ω (526 nm wavelength) light in pulses up to 1 ns long. Pulsed power machines such as the present Z machine have demonstrated the ability to drive inertial fusion implosions. T A Mehlhorn. which avoids the stringent temperature control required for β-layered capsules. Control.

The short pulse laser energy will be 2 kJ with pulse durations of 1–10 ps for one beam line. since beam plasma instabilities. Another goal of these DT experiments could be to demonstrate significant fusion yield. Early experiments will likely obtain values of fuel ρd that are sufficiently low so that the short pulse laser will heat the entire fuel mass volumetrically. This will extend the x-ray energy available for radiography experiments to the 10–50 keV range and enable integrated fast ignitor experiments to be performed on the ZR facility beginning in 2007 when the upgrade from Z to ZR is complete. The Z machine will be upgraded to ZR by 2007 with twice the stored energy and reduced timing jitter. pioneered at the University of Rochester in the mid 1980s [3] and demonstrated at the petawatt level in 1996 at LLNL using one beam of the Nova laser system [4].B852 S A Slutz et al A high-energy petawatt capability is presently being added to the Z-beamlet laser system using the chirped pulse amplification technique. The present Z accelerator at Sandia National Laboratories [8. depend on the background plasma density. direct magnetic compression could achieve densities approaching 180 g cc−1 . 9] can convert 15% of the stored electrical energy into thermal x-ray energy generating 1. Later the other three beam lines could be added to yield a total beam energy of 8 kJ. Using simple arguments one expects the ignition energy to scale as 1/ρ 2 . Pulsed-power is an inexpensive means of delivering very high electrical power to z-pinches. These include the vacuum hohlraum. Detailed numerical studies [6] indicate that the condition for ignition and propagating burn is given approximately by the expression ρ −1. Such z-pinches can either be used to directly compress deuterium/tritium (DT) or be used to efficiently generate x-rays. (1) 100 As can be seen from this formula the fuel must be compressed to high densities (200–400 g cc−1 ) to keep the required laser energy at a practical value. The temperature range of interest varies from essentially cold material up to the temperature of the hot spot which will be 5–10 keV at the time of ignition. In particular. Thus we plan to develop the capability to field fast ignition physics experiments using pulsed power for fuel compression and Z-petawatt to generate high energy particle (electron or ion) beams to be propagated through the compressed matter. An alternate scheme has been proposed to use these electrons to generate a beam of ions. We refer to this type of configuration as an ‘untamped’ . In either scenario. the propagation of these beams through plasmas over a wide range of temperatures and densities must be understood. which can then indirectly drive capsule implosions to obtain high DT densities. which avoids the stringent temperature control required for β-layered capsules [7]. this jet of hot electrons is directed towards an assembly of compressed fuel (DT). an interesting milestone could be to obtain ‘fast ignition hot spot breakeven’ where the fusion yield exceeds the total energy deposited into the hot spot.0–1. In the original fast ignition scenario [5]. The density range of interest varies from the critical density for absorption of the laser light up to the peak density of the compressed fuel. while a modified dynamic hohlraum could produce densities in excess of 300 g cc−1 . We are developing a capability to implode capsules filled with liquid deuterium/tritium. ZR will be an excellent machine to compress materials for fast ignition studies using several approaches that will be described in this paper. Simulations indicate that the vacuum hohlraum could produce DT densities of about 135 g cc−1 .85 Eig = 140 kJ. which could then subsequently be focused onto DT. The energy required for fast ignition depends strongly on the fuel density. It is important to study particle transport at these high densities. the compression of DT with a magnetically driven liner and a modified dynamic hohlraum concept. A high intensity short pulse laser beam generates an energetic jet of hot electrons when it interacts with matter.8 MJ of soft x-rays radiated from various z-pinch loads. which are expected to affect particle transport.

Direct magnetic compression of liquid DT Pulsed power machines can produce extremely high magnetic fields by delivering high currents to small radii z-pinch loads. at a density of 300 g cc−1 . and a factor of 3 lower energy is required at 300 g cc−1 . a density of . a factor of 2 lower energy is required at 100 g cc−1 . The hemispherical capsule may be thought of as a special case of the reentrant cone geometry. (2) 100 where EUT is the energy required for breakeven of an untamped hot spot. The stagnated pinch is shown schematically in this figure. (3) 100 which shows the advantage of having the hot spot at least partially tamped by the nearby cold fuel. The hot spot will be surrounded by cold fuel which will tamp the expansion. At 300 g cc−1 . as depicted in figure 1.89 ET = 7. An analytic model has been constructed [10]. which implode along a planar glide surface. As experiments progress and higher ρd fuel assemblies are created. If the implosion is purely cylindrically symmetric. which fill an empty space referred to as a primary vacuum hohlraum. More details can be obtained in the paper of Vesey et al [12]. but we are not limited to this special case. Hemispherical capsules are also convenient for liquid cryogenic capsules [13]. 2. Fuel compression using z-pinch driven vacuum hohlraums The most developed z-pinch driven capsule compression scheme uses z-pinches to generate x-rays.5 kJ. it will be possible for the particle beam generated by the short-pulse laser to heat only a portion of the fuel with a width equal to that of the particle beam and a depth corresponding to the particle range. which do not require the process called β-layering [7] which is quite expensive. A single pinch driven hohlraum configuration. For example. Two-dimensional radiation-hydrodynamics simulations have been performed which indicate that peak DT densities of 135 g cc−1 could be obtained with a liquid cryogenic capsule driven by a single ended vacuum hohlraum on ZR.Fast ignition studies B853 hot spot. Radiation then flows into a secondary hohlraum to ablatively drive the compression of a fuel capsule. We could also use more acute cone angles as has been employed at ILE Osaka [14] and the Omega laser facility in Rochester [15] if they prove to have advantages. which gives the following breakeven scaling: ρ −3/2 EUT = 15. hot spot breakeven could possibly be achieved if just two beam paths are made available on the Z-beamlet with short pulse capability. is particularly well suited to drive partial sphere capsule implosions for fast ignition studies. 3 kJ of energy must be deposited in a hot spot compared 15 kJ at 100 g cc−1 . A series of twodimensional (2D) numerical simulations was used to determine the breakeven scaling given approximately by the expression [11] ρ −1. 3. We have studied the distortion of these capsules and the glide surface using in-flight backlighting [12].3 kJ. In this approach a liquid cryogenic fuel layer is condensed from a low pressure external gas supply and confined between concentric plastic shells. We are presently using hemispherical capsules. Even higher pressures can be obtained by using the magnetic pressure to implode a high density annular liner containing DT. The ZR machine should produce in excess of 26 MA which would produce a magnetic pressure of approximately 27 MB on a z-pinch load with a radius of 2 mm.

The initial configuration is shown in figure 2(a). Figure 2. but these initial results clearly indicate that this approach is promising. which achieve peak fuel densities of about 180 g cc−1 with a peak driving current of 26 MA. Simulations of a magnetically driven liner: (a) the initial configuration and (b) the imploded configuration. Z-pinches are susceptible to the Magneto-RayleighTaylor (MRT) instability. This tapering of the liner results in a quasi-spherical implosion that follows the shaped liner. 100 g cc−1 could only be achieved if the initial outer radius of the DT is 20 times the final radius. Lasnex simulations [16] of a new type of quasi-spherical liner implosion have been performed. a convergence ratio of 20.25 g cc−1 . The orange region is liquid DT at an initial density of 0.B854 S A Slutz et al z-pinch Figure 1. The thick gold region is the electrode which has been chosen to be thick enough so that no hydrodynamic disturbance reaches the outer boundary of the simulation. The final compressed state is shown in figure 2(b). The annular liner is thicker at z = 0 than near the shaped electrode. i. . Further work on this concept is needed to increase the density and reduce the amount of gold on the electrode. Single-sided power feed double-pinch hohlraum configuration as fielded on Z. which could degrade a high convergence implosion. The required convergence ratio can be reduced if the implosion is driven quasi-spherically. The white lines are for reference only.e. The yellow regions are solid gold at an initial density of 19.3 g cc−1 .

When the shock wave reaches the axis both above and below the capsule. Radiation from this hot material fills the primary hohlraum and then flows into the secondary hohlraum through the channels between the baffles. The wire array is assumed to be tungsten with a linear density of 7. A promising initial geometry of a modified dynamic hohlraum is depicted in figure 3. Dynamic hohlraums optimized using Lasnex simulations. The location of these channels can be chosen to produce a high degree of radiation symmetry on the capsule. the radiation generated by the dynamic hohlraum approach is not adequately symmetric at the capsule surface for the high convergence implosions that are needed to obtain high DT densities. The different colours represent different materials. Previous simple dynamic hohlraum designs using a uniform density foam as the convertor do not provide an appropriate pulse shape. Initially the radiation is hotter at the equator of the capsules due to the incoming shock. Higher temperatures are generated than in the vacuum hohlraum due to the smaller volume of the hohlraum. increasing the density by about a factor of three without significantly increasing the entropy. This configuration has been simulated using the 2D radiation hydrodynamics code Lasnex [16]. The collision of the wire array with the foot convertor shock heats both these materials to a temperature in excess of 100 eV. the dynamic hohlraum [17–19] relies on the z-pinch plasma itself to form a hohlraum enclosing the capsule to be imploded. significant radiation is generated which results in a pole hot distribution of radiation at the capsule. However. The pulse must have a relatively low temperature (60–100 eV) ‘foot’ for a period of 10–20 ns. The green region is either vacuum on low density helium. The fuel density could be inferred from neutron yields. and thus backlighting will require energetic x-rays. Helium could be used as a coolant with little effect on either the dynamics or the radiation flow. However. diagnosing the results could be problematic. since the simulations predict low material temperatures due to the isentropic nature of the implosion.Fast ignition studies B855 Experiments will be needed to determine how susceptible these implosions are to the MRT instability. or the fuel could be doped with elements with emission lines suitable for spectroscopic analysis. Analytic calculations were used to estimate the appropriate locations . Z-petawatt could also be used to heat the DT fuel after compression. Capsule implosions have produced hot (Te > 1 keV). Another issue for the dynamic hohlraum is obtaining a pulse shape that will result in a highly isentropic implosion of an ICF capsule.1 mg cm−1 . which is a source of radiation. The impact of the imploding wire array plasma onto the foam surface creates a strong shock heating the foam which emits the x-rays which are trapped by the high opacity high-Z plasma. Furthermore the areal density of the gold liner is quite large at the time of stagnation. The foot convertor is composed of a 50/50 mixture of gold and CH plastic. The wire array was driven by a lumped circuit model of the ZR accelerator. and the relatively cool electrode walls. dense (ne ∼ (1–4) × 1023 cm−3 ) cores [18] and thermonuclear neutrons [19] using the Z-facility. This could be fabricated from a foam doped with gold or could be constructed by vapour depositing gold on a plastic (Mylar) film. Z-petawatt will be necessary to provide the x-rays needed. At late times the plasma ablated from the capsule can slow down the imploding z-pinch plasma and the z-pinch takes on a quasi-spherical shape as was observed by Joel Lash et al [20]. Z-pinch dynamic hohlraums are typically created by imploding a high-Z wire array onto convertors composed of low-Z material such as CH2 foam. which are a net sink of radiation. have provided useful capsule drive temperatures rising to ∼220 eV. This sends the first shock through the capsule ablator and fuel. Fuel compression using the dynamic hohlraum concept In contrast to the vacuum hohlraum. 4.

thus forming a prolate shaped implosion that wraps around the capsule. During the foot portion of the radiation pulse. The strong shock generated within the expanded baffle material strikes the axis first near the electrodes. The linear density of the foot convertor was designed to vary smoothly from 10. Initial configuration of the modified hohlraum.B856 S A Slutz et al Figure 3. which will act as a convertor later in the implosion. The radiation temperature at the capsule is plotted as a function of time in figure 4. and then the positions were changed based on numerical simulation results. This region is then driven to high temperature and radiates strongly. of the baffles. the baffles expand and fill in the channels to form a relatively uniform region of low density plasma. The electrodes are shaped to follow this implosion. The symmetry of the radiation during high temperature . A polar radiation shield prevents this radiation from illuminating the capsule directly. The radiation temperature rises up to approximately 60 eV just after the collision of the wire array with the foot convertor. Figure 4.2 mg cm−1 at the equator (z = 0) to 5. The radiation temperature at the capsule as calculated in a Lasnex simulation of the modified dynamic hohlraum. This causes the combined high-Z materials of the foot convertor and the wire arrays to implode more quickly at the electrodes.1 mg cm−1 at the electrodes.

If these studies show favourable interaction physics. Further optimization should improve these results. Note that once an optimized design is achieved the glide plane of the capsule surface needs to be included in the simulations to determine the degradation of the implosion due to electrode motion. Instrum. the foot convertor and the baffles. for the United States Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration under Contract DE-AC04-94AL85000. Theoretical scaling indicates that roughly 1–7 kJ needs to be deposited in DT compressed to 100–300 g cc−1 to obtain fast ignition hot spot breakeven. The pulse shape is determined by the initial location of the wire array.Fast ignition studies B857 portion of the radiation pulse is affected by the size of the polar radiation shield and the shape of the incoming high-z material. which are time consuming. a Lockheed Martin Company. and an experimental campaign is required to determine if the promise of this approach can be realized. Steve Hatchett. Sandia is a multiprogramme laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation. at the present we have only simulations. The pulse shape also depends on the degree to which the foot convertor has been shimmed. Acknowledgments We would like to thank Jim Hammer. could provide fuel densities of approximately 135 g cc−1 . The Z machine is being upgraded to deliver roughly twice the energy to a z-pinch load. which forms the case of the hohlraum. The most developed approach. simulations indicate that fuel densities in excess of 300 g cc−1 could be achieved. the radiation symmetry and pulse shape were adequate in this simulation to drive a Be/Cu capsule containing a layer of DT ice to a peak density of approximately 330 g cc−1 with a ρr > 1 g cm−2 . Sci. Consequently an optimum design has not yet been obtained. the other beam lines of Z-beamlet could be converted to short pulse operation to yield a total energy of 8 kJ. A liquid cryogenic target is being developed. Using modifications of the dynamic hohlraum concept. Plans have been made to convert one beam line of Z-beamlet to short pulse operation with more than 2 kJ. Max Tabak and George Zimmerman (LLNL) for helpful discussions on the Lasnex simulations. Opt. Further simulations to optimize this approach are needed. 5. References [1] Van Wonterghem B M et al 1997 Performance of a prototype for a large-aperture multi-pass Nd : glass laser for inertial confinement fusion Appl. 36 4932 [2] Bennett G R et al 2001 X-ray imaging techniques on Z using the Z-Beamlet laser Rev. which should enable radiation driven capsules to compress either pure deuterium or a deuterium–tritium mixture with a relatively inexpensive cryogenic system. However. which is more than adequate for fast ignition experiments. This will result in increased ability to compress DT to the high densities needed for relevant fast ignition studies. using vacuum hohlraums. However. 72 657 . Optimizing this system requires a series of 2D simulations. but experiments are needed to determine the effect of instabilities on such implosions. which are already promising. Simulations indicate that direct magnetic compression has the promise of compressing fuel to densities approaching 180 g cc−1 . This energy will be sufficient for studies of short pulse laser interaction with highly compressed fuel. Judy Harte. Summary A number of developments at Sandia National Laboratories will enable an integrated study of the fast ignition concept. so this may be an achievable goal.

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