PHYSICS OF PLASMAS 16, 072701 2009

Study of the effect of current rise time on the formation of the precursor column in cylindrical wire array Z pinches at 1 MA
S. C. Bott,1 D. M. Haas,1 Y. Eshaq,1 U. Ueda,1 F. N. Beg,1 D. A. Hammer,2 B. Kusse,2 J. Greenly,2 T. A. Shelkovenko,2 S. A. Pikuz,2 I. C. Blesener,2 R. D. McBride,2 J. D. Douglass,2,a K. Bell,2 P. Knapp,2 J. P. Chittenden,3 S. V. Lebedev,3 S. N. Bland,3 G. N. Hall,3 F. A. Suzuki Vidal,3 A. Marocchino,3 A. Harvey-Thomson,3 M. G. Haines,3 J. B. A. Palmer,4 A. Esaulov,5 and D. J. Ampleford6
1 2

Center for Energy Research, University of California San Diego, California 92093-0417, USA Laboratory of Plasma Studies, Cornell University, New York 14853, USA 3 Blackett Laboratory, Imperial College London, SW7 2BW, United Kingdom 4 AWE Plc, Aldermaston, Berkshire RG7 4PR, United Kingdom 5 Department of Physics, University of Nevada, Reno, Nevada 89557, USA 6 Sandia National Laboratories, California 94551-0969, USA

Received 26 February 2009; accepted 8 June 2009; published online 1 July 2009 The limited understanding of the mechanisms driving the mass ablation rate of cylindrical wires arrays is presently one of the major limitations in predicting array performance at the higher current levels required for inertial confinement fusion ICF ignition. Continued investigation of this phenomenon is crucial to realize the considerable potential for wire arrays to drive both ICF and inertial fusion energy, by enabling a predictive capability in computational modeling. We present the first study to directly compare the mass ablation rates of wire arrays as a function of the current rise rate. Formation of the precursor column is investigated on both the MAPGIE 1 MA, 250ns Mitchell et al., Rev. Sci. Instrum. 67, 1533 1996 and COBRA 1 MA, 100ns Greenly et al., Rev. Sci. Instrum. 79, 073501 2008 generators, and results are used to infer the change in the effective ablation velocity induced by the rise rate of the drive current. Laser shadowography, gated extreme ultraviolet XUV imaging, and x-ray diodes are used to compare the dynamical behavior on the two generators, and X-pinch radiography and XUV spectroscopy provide density evolution and temperature measurements respectively. Results are compared to predictions from an analytical scaling model developed previously from MAGPIE data, based on a fixed ablation velocity. For COBRA the column formation time occurs at 116 5 ns and for Al arrays and 146 5 ns for W arrays, with Al column temperature in the range of 70–165 eV. These values lie close to model predictions, inferring only a small change in the ablation velocity is induced by the factor of 2.5 change in current rise time. Estimations suggest the effective ablation velocities for MAGPIE and COBRA experiments vary by a maximum of 30%. © 2009 American Institute of Physics. DOI: 10.1063/1.3159864

Wire array Z pinches1–3 represent the most powerful laboratory x-ray sources,4,5 and have recently been employed as a drive for high energy density physics,6 laboratory astrophysics,7–16 radiation science,17–22 and shock23–29 experiments. One of the most interesting of these applications, however, is as a possible driver for inertial confinement fusion30–34 ICF and inertial fusion energy IFE .35–39 The performance of a wire array is dominated by the ablation processes taking place at the wires, and while in general the dynamical evolution is well understood, a comprehensive, quantitative model of the ablation process is not currently available. This results in uncertainties in the likely scaling of x-ray power with driver current, and consequently understanding of the prolonged ablation phase of wire array experiments is of fundamental importance to their continued development as both a high power x-ray source and a possible driver for ICF.

Present address: Tri Alpha Energy Inc., Foothill Ranch, California 92610, USA.

Wire arrays comprise an annulus of fine wires, typically a few tens of microns in diameters, arranged on a diameter of several millimeters. When a fast-rising current is passed, a heterogeneous plasma structure is formed by each wire: a cold dense core is surrounded by a low density hot corona which carries much of the drive current.40–46 The azimuthal global magnetic field generated by the parallel current paths in the wires accelerates the low density corona to the array axis via the j Bglobal force.47 The rate at which mass is ablated from the wire cores to replenish the corona is well approximated by a Rocket model,48 which assumes a fixed velocity of the ablated material. The accepted value for this “ablation velocity” Vabl is 1.5 105 m s−1, established from experiments on the MAGPIE generator at Imperial College London.49 Values of the fluid velocity determined by computational simulations typically converge to similar values close to the array axis, and show reasonable agreement with simple rocket model estimations of radial mass profiles during the ablation phase.50 The complexity of recovering data from an environment such as an exploding wire core subjected to current rise rates
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of 1014 A / s make reliable measurements difficult, and therefore subject to a number of uncertainties. Similarly, the modeling of initially solid wires which are rapidly driven through phase transitions into the plasma state in a fully three-dimensional 3D geometry is beyond current computational abilities, particularly since the spatial resolution required is of the order of a few microns in a total system size of 10 mm extent in three dimensions. However, the appearance of the compact precursor column51–55 at the axis in cylindrical wire array experiments is a direct result of the extended ablation times resulting from the core-corona structure. Mass ablated from the stationary wire cores collides at the system axis, and both the formation time and increase in density following formation are a direct reflection of the mass ablation rate at the wire position. Therefore, investigation of the properties of the precursor column properties can yield information about the mass ablation rate of such arrays. At present, it is thought that an ICF ignition scale driver will require currents 60 MA,30,35,38 and so there is a need to establish how wire ablation processes scale with currents significantly beyond what is available at present. There has been much work to address this using a range of pulsed power generators, centering around the scaling of the x-ray power with the maximum current drive.56,57 However, the rise time of the generator current drive may also be an important factor, from both a physics and technical point of view. A longer rise-time generator is more easily constructed using current technology, and hence more cost effective, than a 100 ns rise-time generator. However, if the mass ablation rate varies with the current rise time this directly affects the load performance at a given mass, and will need to be accounted for in the design of an ignition scale load. In this work, quantitative measurements of the formation of the precursor column have been made on the COBRA facility at Cornell University58 with a peak current of 1 MA in 100 ns. These results are compared to previous and recent data from the MAGPIE generator59 at Imperial College London with the same maximum current, but a rise time of 250 ns. Data are compared to predictions from an analytical scaling model for the precursor dynamics published previously55 in an attempt to determine specifically whether the current rise time influences the ablation physics of wire arrays. This represents the first direct experimental comparison of the effect of current rise time on ablation physics in cylindrical wire arrays. The remainder of the paper is structured as follows: Sec. II describes formation processes and a scaling model of the precursor plasma column along with predictions for the expected variation of these processes with rise time. In Sec. III the experimental setup and diagnostics are described. Section IV presents results on the formation and characterization of the precursor column on the COBRA generator along with comparisons to those on MAGPIE. Section V provides a summary and discussion of the data, and conclusions are presented in Sec. VI.


Previous studies investigated the formation processes of the precursor column on MAGPIE 1 MA, 250 ns and presented the likely physical processes by which the column forms.55 As the current drive begins, mass is ablated from the wires and is accelerated toward the array axis. The streams from each wire converge and form a diffuse initial density profile. For streams with a short ion mean free path, such as for Al on MAGPIE, stagnation occurs and generates a relatively compact object 2–3 mm across. For streams with mean free paths comparable to the array radius at early times, a more diffuse object results. Typically, assuming Vion = Vabl = 1.5 105 m s−1, this difference is observed as a function of the wire material, and as streams arrive at the axis aluminum streams have a mean free path of 1 mm, while tungsten streams with much higher kinetic energy at the same ablation velocity have mean free paths of 7 mm. This collisionless flow for higher atomic number materials delays the onset of the processes described below,60 and the formation of the column is observed later in the experiment. As material continues to ablate and arrive at the axis, the ion density at the axis continues to rise. Since the radiation loss rate is proportional to nion2, the energy radiated from the axis also continues to increase. At some point, the energy radiated from the column becomes greater than that delivered through thermalization of the kinetic energy of the streams. This allows the plasma to cool and contract. This further raises the density, and hence radiation loss rate, which allows a further contraction, and the result is a nonlinear contraction of the initial density profile to form a compact high density object—the compact precursor column. The point at which this process is triggered is defined experimentally by a peak in the radiation output signature, and this contraction process typically takes less than 10 ns once initiated. The column reaches a minimum radius at the end of this process. This diameter shows a dependence on the atomic number of the array material, varying from 3 mm for carbon to 0.25 mm for Au. This variation is well matched by the assumption of a balance between the thermal pressure of the column at a temperature which is assumed to be approximately the same for all materials 60 eV on MAGPIE determined from extreme ultraviolet XUV spectroscopy for Al arrays54 , and the kinetic pressure of the incoming ablated plasma streams which continue to impact at the column perimeter. The column expands late in time as mass continues to accumulate, the rate of expansion again varying inversely with atomic number. The formation of the column at a given point in the current rise for MAGPIE experiments led to the development of a scaling model for the formation time and temperature variation for a given column diameter. The model is based on the accumulation of mass at the axis of a cylindrical wire array consistent with the rocket model of wire ablation48 and the concept of a “critical line density” at the axis which allows the column to form. The precursor column formation process is triggered by the increasing mass density at axis which increases the ra-

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Phys. Plasmas 16, 072701 2009

ns. Note that these values use the average experimental current pulse from the COBRA experimental series given below, and the model uses the average experimental current pulse from the present and previous studies on MAGPIE. The pressure balance argument in Ref. 55 also allows an estimate of the precursor column temperature given a column diameter. The thermal pressure of the column is balanced against the kinetic pressure of the ablated plasma streams at column formation, Z+1 T t = I2 t − R0/Va
t−R0/Va 2 I 0

VamionReq , 2 t dt


FIG. 1. Variation of the ion line density at the array axis with time for MAGPIE and COBRA. Horizontal line indicates critical ion line density for precursor column formation, and vertical lines indicate precursor formation times for MAGPIE measured and COBRA predicted .

diation loss, allowing the plasma to cool. Since the radiation loss rate is proportional to the ion density this is equivalent to asserting that the advent of a certain ion density at the axis triggers the column formation. A volume density requires prior knowledge of a column diameter and hence is not useful for prediction, and so a line density at the axis is taken as the scaling quantity. The variation of the ion line density at the axis can be determined from the rocket model, Nion axis t =
0 t−R0/Va 0

4 VaR0mion

I2 t dt.


To allow scaling of the formation time to other generators, the density at column formation time is taken from MAGPIE experiments, where the radiation peak denoting formation is observed at 155 ns into the current drive. At this point the drive current has reached 0.6 MA with a sin2 waveform, this defines the “critical” ion line density as 6 1018 m−1, i.e., when the density at the array axis for a given generator and array reaches this value, the precursor column is expected to form. This approach assumes that ablation streams are collisional on arrival at the array axis and no counterstreaming occurs, and so applies directly to low atomic number loads such as aluminum at the MA level. This was previously applied to the Z machine at Sandia National Laboratories.55 Here, the model is applied to COBRA to give predictions of the formation times of the precursor column for Al and W arrays. This is shown is Fig. 1 for both the MAGPIE 1 MA, 250 ns and COBRA 1 MA, 100 ns generators. The prediction for Al precursor column formation on COBRA is 107 ns. For W, the critical ion line density is reached at a later time in the current drive for a given mass ablation rate due to its greater mass, and this is reached at 139 ns for COBRA. In addition, counterstreaming close to the axis was inferred on MAGPIE for some 40 ns,55 delaying column formation further. Assuming a counter streaming period reduced by the 2.5 factor increase in current rise rate on COBRA we can estimate a formation time of 155

where Z is the average ionization state in the column, and Req is the minimum column diameter. The precursor column temperature at formation on COBRA can be estimated by assuming the precursor column diameter is the same as on MAGPIE and using the faster rise time of the generator in Eq. 2 a comparison of the experimental column diameters on both MAPGIE and COBRA is given in Sec. V . At the expected time of column formation, the COBRA current waveform is at a higher level, and so a higher kinetic pressure impinges on the column at this time. In order to maintain the same column diameter, the thermal pressure, and hence column temperature, must be higher than the 60 eV on MAGPIE. Assuming a 1.6 mm column diameter for aluminum, Z + 1 T 1400, which yields a temperature of 140– 175 eV for Z = 8 – 10. This model assumes that radiation loss rates are sufficiently high following column formation that all stagnating kinetic energy is radiated away, with no further dependence on material atomic number, and so the same temperature is predicted for all materials. It is assumed that the stagnation of streams on the column contributes only to the kinetic pressure in Eq. 2 and not to the internal energy of the column.

The use of MAGPIE and COBRA for these experiments was to allow as direct a comparison as possible of loads at different rise times to the same maximum current. Arrays were 16 mm in diameter and typically comprised 16 wires of aluminum, tungsten, or copper. In addition the array heights were comparable, being 23 mm for MAGPIE and 20 mm for COBRA. The wire arrays were designed to be overmassed in each case, and did not implode during the experiments. For Al arrays 50 and 30 m wires were used on MAGPIE and COBRA, respectively, and for W, 13 and 10 m. The use of other wire sizes is indicated where appropriate. On both generators the return current path is at large diameter compared to the array, and is provided by four MAGPIE or five COBRA return rods, and this allows both the monitoring of the load current by Rogowski coil, and the mounting of X pinches for radiography, as described below. The average load currents were 1.08 MA in 110 ns on COBRA and 0.94 MA in 250 ns on MAGPIE. Typical current pulses are given in Fig. 2, along with the running integral of square of the current as a function of time for both generators, which describes the momentum delivered to the load for each current drive.

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FIG. 2. Current pulses for MAGPIE and COBRA, along with running integral of the square of the current pulse.

The diagnostic arrangement on both generators also included similar diagnostics. Laser shadowography and interferometry 532 nm, pulse length 0.5 ns on MAGPIE and 0.2 ns on COBRA were used to examine the dynamic evolution of arrays, along with gated XUV framing cameras, and optical streak photography. Diamond photoconducting x-ray diodes61 PCDs were used to examine radiation output during column formation, and XUV spectroscopy allowed an estimation of the column temperature. The XUV spectrometer used a 600 grooves/mm plane Au grating at a grazing incidence 4° to image spectra onto either a film pack Kodak 10101 for time-integrated measurements or a gated XUV camera for time-resolved measurements. This setup gave a spectral range of 10–240 Å. X-pinch radiography was also employed to measure the density of the precursor column as a function of time. One or more return posts were replaced by an X pinch which projects through the array and images onto a film pack mounted inside the vacuum chamber. The radiation filter of 12.5 m Ti transmits in the range of 3–5 keV and images were recorded on Kodak M100 or DR-50 film. On both generators the radiography setup provided a full view of the array and was calibrated using a step wedge of suitable thicknesses of the array material. Specific details are given in Sec. III. On MAGPIE, two images per shot are possible, while on COBRA a recent development62 allows up to five images per shot.

FIG. 4. Lineouts across Al and W arrays at 100 and 104 ns, respectively, showing broad early time emission profiles.

The general formation dynamics of the precursor column on COBRA were observed on imaging diagnostics for comparison to predicted values and results on MAGPIE. A total of six tungsten loads and nine aluminum loads were fired. A sequence of gated self-emission images 30 eV for W loads, shown in Fig. 3, summarizes the observed processes on COBRA. Early in time, prior to column formation, a broad emission profile was observed with axial gated emission imaging note that the small diameter circular emission ring is due to a hardware aperture machined into the cathode

FIG. 3. Sequence of gated self-emission images for W loads in COBRA showing formation dynamics of the precursor column.

wire mount . This is several millimeters in diameter for W, and 3 mm for Al, as demonstrated by plotting lineouts across the array for both materials at approximately 100 ns Fig. 4 . At this time the radiation output in the 100–200 eV window is increasing and reaches a defined peak Fig. 5 , and at the same time the precursor column is observed as a strongly emitting object on the optical streak images, shown in Fig. 5. Correlation of the x-ray signal to the streak image shows that column formation is approximately coincident with the peak radiation output note that this is a nonimploding array and this peak is not a stagnation yield . This correlation provides a clear indication of the formation time of the column, as described in Sec. II, and for comparison purposes the formation time is taken directly from the streak image in each shot. Over a series of experiments, the onset of the formation processes is determined to occur at 116 5 ns for Al arrays and 146 7 ns for W arrays on COBRA. The formation of the column as observed by axial emission imaging allows the diameter of the emitting region to be followed during the collapse process. This is shown for an Al load in Fig. 6. The collision of plasma can be seen between wire positions, and this again denotes the short mean free path of Al streams. Corresponding features are not seen for W arrays due to the collisionless nature of the streams see, for example, Fig. 3 of Ref. 55 . The minimum diameters for Al and W columns immediately after formation were averaged between laser imaging and axial emission images and are 1.55 0.3 and 1.0 0.2 mm for Al and W, respectively. Late in time, laser imaging shows the column diameter increasing. This is also observed on the streak images and an estimation of the expansion rate can be made. For W this is 10 m / ns and for Al 40 m / ns. On MAGPIE similar measurements results in expansion rates of 2.5 and 10 m / ns for W and Al, respectively. It is interesting to note that the ratio of the rates

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FIG. 5. Correlation of the peak in the radiation signature to the observation of the precursor column on the optical streak images for a W array on COBRA.

FIG. 6. Variation of emission diameter during column formation for Al array on COBRA.

for Al and W is the same for both generators. The higher values on COBRA are likely to be due to the greater mass flux onto the column at this time since the current peaks shortly before this period providing the largest mass ablation rate. On MAGPIE the current is still below maximum despite the later column formation time and the mass flux is correspondingly lower, resulting in a lower postformation expansion rate. The formation dynamics on COBRA are directly comparable to those determined on MAGPIE generator in Ref. 55. The initial build-up followed by a peak in the soft x-ray output, and collapse to small radius are all easily identifiable in the above results. The timings of these events, however, occur earlier in time on COBRA. The similarity of the two systems is demonstrated by plotting the variation of diameters from gated XUV images for both aluminum and tungsten on scales normalized to the minimum observed diameters and average time of formation of the precursor column for MAGPIE and COBRA data sets. This is shown in Fig. 7. The normalized plots show that indeed the systems evolve in a very similar fashion on the two generators. In addition, some interesting features are observed in the COBRA experiments. First, laser shadow imaging observed the formation of the precursor column at the anode prior to the cathode Fig. 8 , as was observed on the MAGPIE generator.55 The high quality of the streak images along with the observation of the

precursor column part way formed on the same shot gives a value for the anode-to-cathode formation rate of 106 m s−1, again similar to MAGPIE experiments. It is still not clear whether this is a result of a small linear variation in the ablation rate with axial position, as discussed in Ref. 55 or if other processes play a role. Note that the axial modulations on the plasma flow from the wires on the laser images in Fig. 8 is the universally ablation “flare structure,” which is observed in all exploding wire experiments in which magnetic field both local to the wire and global, resulting from the array as a whole, are dynamically significant. This structure is observed at all current levels,42,48,63,64 and has been investigated both analytically65 and computationally,66,67 and it was recently demonstrated that 3D magnetohydrodynamic MHD simulations can reproduce this behavior.67 Quantitative experimental measurements of this structure from the present study are presented below and discussed in Sec. VI. The streak images also show complex structure around the formation time of the precursor column Fig. 9 . In addition to features described above, a well defined emission region moving radially outward from the axis is observed immediately following the formation. It is possible that this structure represents a shock, formed by the collapse of the precursor column moving outward into the lower density plasma. The approximate velocity is 104 m s−1, which is slightly above the estimated local sound speed in the plasma

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FIG. 9. Streak image and magnification of a W load on COBRA showing plasma structure around precursor column formation time.

FIG. 7. Plot of diameter variation of precursor column during formation for left Al and right W arrays on both MAGPIE and COBRA using axes normalized to the time of formation and minimum diameters in each case put Al/W labels on plots .

streams assuming Te = 10 eV, Z = 8 . If this is indeed a shock, which should be addressed specifically in future studies, this system may have applications to systems such as core-collapse supernovae.68–70

FIG. 8. Laser shadowograms of W arrays from left COBRA at 150 ns and right MAGPIE at 160 ns showing formation of the precursor column initially at the anode in both cases.

The use of X-pinch radiography allowed recovery of the mass density of the precursor column for a number of shots on both MAGPIE and COBRA. Calibration of the film exposure was achieved using a step wedge of various thicknesses of the array material deposited on the Ti radiation filter.71 For the W arrays thicknesses of 13.75, 27.5, 70.1, 163, 316.3, 555, and 1079 nm were applied via radiofrequency sputtering deposition. The lower usable limit of the calibration is determined by the contrast of the recovered image, and typically for W the 13.75 nm step is not resolvable, giving an areal density range of 5.3 10−4 − 2.1 10−2 kg m−2. For the Al arrays, commercially available foils of 0.4, 0.8, 1.6, 3, 6, and 10 m were mounted manually. All these steps are resolvable in the images obtained and give an areal density range of 1.08 10−3 − 2.7 10−2 kg m−2. These allowed conversion of the exposure to areal mass density. To calculate volumetric mass density, the precursor column is assumed to be a cylinder of uniform density with the average column diameter taken as the absorption path length in the direction of the diagnostic. The diameter is taken as the average from radiography, XUV gated imaging, and laser images where available coincident with the radiograph time. Examples of radiographs from W and Al arrays on COBRA are given in Fig. 10, along with areal density lineouts. These include, to the authors’ knowledge, the first quantitative radiographic measurements of an aluminum precursor column in cylindrical wire arrays. The plots in Fig. 11 compare the radiography data for Al and W arrays on both MAGPIE and COBRA to estimations of the mass evolution of the precursor column estimated from the rocket model of ablation. In general, data do not disagree if the typical ablation velocity of 1.5 105 m s−1 is used, however the errors on the experimental measurements are considerable. This is particularly true for Al results due to the low contrast obtained using the present radiography detection setup. To indicate the sensitivity of the comparison to the value of the ablation velocity used, values of 1.0 105 and 3.0 105 m s−1 are also presented. For tungsten arrays, a slightly lower value of the ablation velocity, may provide a better fit to the data for both MAGPIE and COBRA. For aluminum, either 1.5 105 or 1.0 5 105 m s−1 represents the data equally well. A larger data set with significantly improved errors would be needed to facilitate a more detailed analysis, and this will be pursued in future studies.

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FIG. 11. plots of the precursor column mass density as a function of time compared to the rocket model.

FIG. 10. Radiographs with areal density lineouts for upper W 150 ns and lower Al 130 ns arrays on COBRA.

In addition to measurements of the precursor column density, radiography was used to examine the axial density contrast across the flare structure close to the wire positions for W experiments ablation flares for Al experiments provided too low a contrast on radiographs to perform similar measurements . An example radiograph is given in Fig. 12 which shows a 2.5 mm section of a W wire along with a lineout in calibrated areal density. From these data, the average mass density contrast ratio, stream / gap, is 1.6. These

FIG. 12. Radiograph and lineouts of W axial flares on COBRA 0.5 mm from wire position .

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FIG. 13. Top XUV spectra from Al arrays on upper COBRA time integrated and lower MAGPIE time gated at precursor column formation Ref. 54 , with bottom spectral lineouts of each.

values are in good agreement with recent results from 80 kA X pinches and 1 MA cylindrical wire arrays on MAGPIE,72 the 250 kA GenASIS machine at UCSD and 3D MHD modeling67 which also demonstrate a low axial density contrast across the ablation flare structure. The average wavelength of the flare structure in Fig. 12 is 300 90 m for this array, which is comparable to measurements on other generators.73 The precursor column temperature was determined by analysis of the XUV spectra recovered from arrays on COBRA. The best results were obtained using a time-integrated setup. Since overmassed loads were used, there were no implosion or stagnation phases, and hence no emission stronger than that of the precursor formation. This is confirmed by the PCD signals shown in Fig. 5. The time-integrated XUV spectra therefore reported the maximum temperature of the precursor column, and an example is given in Fig. 13. Data from MAGPIE experiments is given in Ref. 54, which was obtained using a gated detector on the same spectrograph.

The image time is shortly after column formation when the column is expected to be at its maximum temperature, and so provides a good comparison to the COBRA spectra. A spectral lineout was taken from both the MAGPIE and COBRA spectra indicated in Fig. 13 and several lines identified. The comparison of the experimental line position to the NIST Atomic Spectra Database74 gave a series of ionized Al species assignments which are indicated on the spectra in Fig. 13. The MAGPIE precursor column spectrum shows line emission assignable to Al IV–VIII 50–300 Å and previous analysis54 estimated a temperature of 50–60 eV. Note that emission from the precursor column is not observed at wavelengths below 50 Å in this spectrum. The COBRA precursor column spectrum shows additional emission from Al XI–XII species 25–50 Å . The column on COBRA is therefore more highly ionized, and so at a greater temperature given a similar density , than that on MAGPIE. The rapid falloff in emission at wavelengths shorter that 25 Å suggests ionization above Al XII is very limited. Higher ionization transitions may appear close to the zero order on the above spectrum, so in order to determine if this is the case, the spectrum from the mica spherical crystal spectrometer fielded on the same shot can be examined. This shows no line emission in the 5–10 Å 1.2–2.5 keV range. The appearance of the Al XI and Al XII lines, but without emission at shorter wavelengths can be used to infer a temperature range in the assumption of local thermal equilibrium using the density obtained from the radiography results above. For = 1.2 kg m−3 a temperature in the range of 70–165 eV is estimated. The temperatures reported in this work are significantly lower than those reported on the ZEBRA facility 1 MA, 100 ns at the Nevada Terawatt Facility by Kantsyrev et al.75 and more recently Coverdale et al.76 who inferred precursor column temperatures of 400 eV for Cu array experiments. Temperatures were inferred from time-resolved crystal spectroscopy measurements which included Cu and stainless steel L-shell emission at 700 eV. This difference is likely due to the difference in array configurations between the experiments. In the present work, arrays using 16 wires on a 16 mm diameter provide relatively good inductive shielding of the axis, and so the amount of current in the precursor at any time is 2% of the drive current for Al or W on either generator. This is inferred from the lack of MHD instabilities observed by imaging diagnostics even at very late time.55 In the ZEBRA experiment, loads used lower wire numbers, and this rather more “open” geometry is likely to results in a much larger fraction of the drive current being carried at the axis through the precursor column once it is formed. In this case, the high temperatures would be due to direct Ohmic heating of the precursor column. In addition the experiments of Coverdale et al. used Cu wires with 4% Ni as a spectroscopic tracer. The behavior of Ni in wire arrays is somewhat anomalous, and loads using Ni wires typically show a significant fraction of current convected to the axis.77 This may also be a factor in the precursor column stability and temperatures recorded in Ref. 76.

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TABLE I. Summary of precursor column characteristic on MAGPIE and COBRA along with analytical predictions for COBRA. Scaling model for COBRA W Al W 139 155 a From experiment 140–175 Not calculated Not calculated

MAGPIE Al Formation time from x-ray peak ns Column diameter at Formation mm Column maximum temperature eV Postformation expansion rate mm/ns MHD instabilities observed in precursor column?


155 1.65

5 0.1

175 0.6 ? 2.5

5 0.15

116 1.55

5 0.3

146 1.0 ? 10 No

7 0.2

107 From experiment 140–175 Not calculated Not calculated

50– 60 10 No

70– 165 40 No

Yes 1% drive current

W scaling model values: assuming collisional flow estimate including collisionless flow period .


The experimental data presented above can be compared to the predictions made using the analytical model for the precursor column formation parameters given in Sec. II, and this is summarized in Table I. Note that the column temperatures for COBRA derived from pressure balance Eq. 2 have been updated with the experimental values of the column diameter determined from the experiments. The aim of these studies was to gain insight into whether the rise time of the current drive specifically influences the ablation physics. The radiography results, while showing a reasonable agreement to the rocket model using the “standard” ablation velocity of 1.5 105 m s−1, cannot be used to constrain the likely ablation rates due to the relatively large errors associated with these measurements. However, to give an estimate of the likely change in the effective ablation velocity over the experiments carried out on the two generators, the comparison of the timing of the precursor column formation can be used, along with the analytical scaling derived from the rocket model. The experimental formation time of the precursor column on COBRA is 116 5 ns for Al and 146 7 ns for W, both of which are some tens of nanoseconds prior to formation on MAPGIE as would be expected from the difference in current rise time. The column diameters are similar for both materials over the two generators, and both show a finite expansion velocity after column formation. In both cases the expansion rate is greater for Al than for W, with the COBRA precursor showing greater values than for MAPGIE. The formation times predicted for COBRA arrays for both Al and W values lie very close to those predicted, lying slightly outside the error bars arising from the experiment. The prediction for the column temperature, using the measured column diameter in the pressure balance model, is also in good agreement with the range inferred from spectroscopic measurements. The fact that the analytical model predictions for COBRA experiments are very close to the experimental values suggests that the assumptions used in the model are reasonably accurate. These are that the ablation rate on both generators is well described by the standard rocket model, with

Vabl = 1.5 105 m s−1 and that the precursor column formation is triggered by the advent of a critical density ion line at the axis. In fact, the predicted formation time is relatively sensitive to the ablation velocity assumed Fig. 14 , and we can investigate what variation of this would be needed to produce formation times inconsistent with the experiments. This gives an estimate of the possible variation in ablation velocity between the MAGPIE and COBRA experiments. This discussion will again use the aluminum results since collisionless flow at the axis does not occur for this material. For the MAGPIE experiments, the standard ablation velocity of 1.5 105 m s−1 was previously shown to match well to experiments, and demonstrated a precursor column formation x-ray signature with a repeatability of 5 ns. If we take these experimental error bars of the formation time as an estimate of the variation of the ablation velocity we can suggest that Vabl = 1.5+ / −0.15 105 m s−1. Given that the predictions made for the formation timing on COBRA were not exact, we can suggest by how much the

FIG. 14. Variation in precursor column formation time with ablation velocity assumed for COBRA current drive. Dotted line indicates Vabl = 1.5 105 ms−1 giving formation time of 107 ns.

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ablation velocity would have to change in order to match perfectly. This requires a formation time 9 ns later than predicted, requiring a decrease in ablation velocity, and this can be achieved using a value of 1.3 105 m s−1. Again the error associated with the formation x-ray signal was 5 ns for aluminum. For the faster current rise rate on COBRA, this equates to a range of possible ablation velocities of 1.3 0.1 105 m s−1. If we assume the ablation velocity changes by a much greater factor than this, say by a factor of 2, precursor column formation would be expected at 80 ns for a higher Vabl, or 160 ns for a lower Vabl on COBRA. This is clearly not observed. From these arguments we can infer a maximum variation of the ablation velocity from one generator to the other, by taking the extremes of the error bars around the optimum values. The highest velocity will be the upper limit inferred from MAGPIE experiments, 1.65 105 m s−1, with the minimum being the lower limit for COBRA experiments of being 1.2 105 m s−1. We can therefore suggest that by reducing the current rise time or increasing the rise rate by a factor of 2.5 from MAGPIE to COBRA, the effective ablation velocity is reduced by a maximum of 30%. The true value may be less than this figure, and indeed if the average values determined above are used the ablation velocity reduction is 15%. Previous work has indirectly inferred that the mass ablation rate of wires in cylindrical arrays is a function of the interwire gap or initial wire diameter,78,79 and results by Sinars et al.80 represent the first direct experimental investigation of the latter of these effects. Given that the aluminum array results presented here used wires of 50, 30, and 25 m, we should address this issue and assess whether the change in diameter of the wires between the MAGPIE and COBRA by a factor of 2 is likely to be a factor in this work. As discussed above, the change in effective ablation velocity between the two generators is small, and from the results presented here do not vary by more than 30%. The inference is therefore that this change in wire diameter does not significantly affect wire ablation rates. This appears to contradict work in Ref 80, where the transmission recorded by radiography was compared to fits using the ablation rocket model, and this analysis suggested that change in initial diameter of W wires from 5.0 to 11.4 m increased the mass ablation rate i.e., reduced the ablation velocity by almost a factor of 2 for comparable arrays. Tungsten wires with diameters of 5.0, 7.4, and 11.5 m were used giving from 8 MA plots in Fig. 9 best fits to rocket models using Vabl = 13, 11, and 7 cm/ s, an approximately linear dependence on initial wire size can be deduced, with larger wire having larger mass ablation rate, and lower ablation velocity. Recent data from the COBRA generator also indicate a similar relationship.81 Applying this scaling to larger wire sizes would give unfeasibly high mass ablation rates for the wire diameters used in this study. It is important to note that the Z study examined W wires and we concentrate on Al here. The use of W results from 1 MA machines is complicated by the period of collisionless flow in these arrays, particularly since we rely on the formation time of the column in these discussions. If we simply apply a relative scaling to the present results, following Ref. 80, the factor of 1.7 change in wire

diameter here would induce a factor of about 1.5 change in the ablation velocity and hence mass ablation rate giving values of Vabl = 1.13– 2.0 105 m s−1, with MAGPIE the lower of these and COBRA the higher. This is considerably greater than the limit of the variation inferred from these studies, and denotes a trend opposite to that discussed above. There are several possible explanations for this discrepancy in data from the present study and that of Sinars et al. The first is that Al arrays behave in a fundamentally different fashion to W arrays, and display no observable variation in ablation rate with initial wire size. This would seem to contradict much previous work, in which rocket model estimates appear to be good fits to data for a range of materials and generator parameters, and is therefore unlikely to be the case. A second possibility is the influence of the magnetic field topology for a given array configuration. The array geometry in the MAGPIE and COBRA experiments was fixed, using 16 wires on a 16 mm diameter, giving nominal interwire gap to core ratios of 30 for W and 13 for Al assuming 100 and 250 m core diameters, respectively . The magnetic topology is therefore fixed and allows a direct comparison to be made in this regard. However, the interwire gap to core ratio for the Z array examined by Sinars et al. was 2, indicating that if magnetic field penetration between the wire locations plays a role in the 1 MA arrays, this is unlikely to be observed for Z arrays, and the two systems are not directly comparable. A study of the effective ablation velocity with wire number on MAGPIE by Lebedev et al.78 showed a significant decrease at smaller interwire gap, but relative insensitivity at large interwire gap, and this may be a key factor in explaining the difference in the trend reported here. A further scenario can be suggested by referring to differences in the wire explosion behavior for different initial wire sizes as observed with radiography. The results in this study used wire sizes of 25, 30, and 50 m for Al and 10 and 13 m for W. The W wires are observed to behave in a similar fashion to those in previous studies, in that a typical core corona is observed, i.e., a well defined core region 100 m in diameter is observed on radiography areal density 10−4 kg m−2 with a corona that is several orders of magnitude less dense, and demonstrates the universal axial flare structure. The Al array experiments show some interesting differences with a change in the initial wire diameter. The 25 m wires appear to behave as have been observed previously and analogously to the W wires, demonstrating core diameters of 250 m Fig. 15 c . The 30 and 50 m Al wires show distinctly different behavior. When viewed from behind Fig. 15 b , the “core” appears to be 650 m in diameter. When viewed from the side Fig. 15 a , the wires appear to show a core but with an expanded higher density corona which is visible on radiography for a considerable radial distance 0.5 mm , with structure at the outside edge of the wire. Both these dimensions are at least a factor of 2 larger than observed for 25 m or smaller Al wires in arrays at 1 MA. Figure 15 also shows small scale structure on the “large” wire cores when viewed from behind, similar to that reported for “thin” wires.44,45,67,82 Axial structure in the coronal plasma flow is not clear on radio-

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tain 100 ns implosion times, and one way to increase the mass is to use larger diameter wires at fixed wire number. In this case, the changes in wire explosion behavior presented here will require further studies to assess the impact on such machines. In addition to inferring a change in mass ablation rate with initial wire size, Ref. 80 noted that in some cases the radial transmission profiles used to assess this cannot be fit using a single velocity rocket model. If we wish to continue to use an analytical model, an alternative is to use more than one ablation velocity to describe the radial density profile. Such an approach was used previously55 in an attempt to explain the earlier formation of the precursor column in arrays on Z of the same parameters studies in Ref. 80; 300 wire, 20 mm diameter W than predicted using the standard rocket model. This approach uses two ablation velocities. The higher of these, V1, is set by the observed formation time of the precursor column by using the same scaling model in this work. The average of the two velocities must equal the average ablation rate to that predicted by the standard rocket model since this fits well to implosion trajectories for these arrays.5 This constrains the lower ablation velocity, V2, and these quantities are related by Eq. 3 , 1−f 1 f , + = V1 V2 V 3

FIG. 15. Full array with radiographs along with magnified sections indicated by black box of a side on large Al wire cores COBRA, 120ns, 110% rise time , b rear of same on MAGPIE 197 ns, 79% rise time , and c typical small Al wire radiograph from MAGPIE 220ns, 88% rise time .

graphs of Al arrays, but laser imaging both on COBRA and MAGPIE confirm the presence of the ablation flare structure on large wire core arrays at wavelengths of 0.5 mm consistent with previous work.48 Following such observations, it has been speculated that there is some critical diameter at which the wire explosion behavior changes. “Small” wires may follow a scaling close to that in Ref. 80, but large wires may follow a different trend, which includes the possibility that there is no variation of mass ablation with wire diameter. From various studies it would seem that this critical diameter is 18 m for W since up to 11.4 m W in Ref. 80 was studied, this work used up to 13 m W, and some conical wire array experiments used 18 m wires,83 all of which appeared to behave like small wires, and indeed such a transition was observed in the range 17– 20 m from recent results on the COBRA generator.81 For Al, a change in behavior was observed between 25 and 30 m. It should be noted here that the 25 m wires were used in arrays with 28 wires, rather than 16 wires for the 30 m wires, which may also influence conclusions. In any event, it is clear that this change is significant at least for wire arrays with current levels of 1 MA, or 33–65 kA/wire at rise rates for the array between 4 1012 and 1 1013 A / s. This is important in that future larger current devices will need to use a larger mass to main-

where f is the fraction of the wire length ablation at each rate, which is assumed to be fixed at 0.5 in these estimates. For these arrays, V1 = 3.5 105 m s−1 and V2 = 0.9 105 m s−1, ensuring that V = 1.5 105 m s−1. This two-velocity rocket model approach was not required to explain experiments on MAGPIE, which leads to some concern over the need to apply such a large perturbation on the model for Z experiments. However, measurements of the axial density contrast across the ablation flare structure presented in this and other recent work72 may provide further insight. If different ablation rates are occurring at different axial positions, as is clear from many experiments, the radial density profile must therefore also be different at different axial positions. If the axial variation of density is measured at a fixed radial location inside the wire array, the density contrast essentially determines what the two ablation velocities must be in the simplest case . It should be noted that it is inherently assumed that any axial motion of the plasma occurs very close to the wire core, as in the standard rocket model, and any measurement location in the flow is outside this region. In order to reproduce this axial density contrast using two ablation velocities, or at least the maximum variation, these must vary only very little and again are constrained to average to the standard rocket model velocity. For MAGPIE and COBRA experiments, values of V1 = 1.8 105 m s−1 and V2 = 1.3 105 m s−1 meet these requirements. It is interesting to note that these are the same values determined as the limits for possible variation of the ablation velocities from the present set of experiments. For the Z case described above, the large difference in V1 and V2 leads to a large axial density variation, and calculations suggest that this should be

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FIG. 16. Plots of axial density variation as a function of array radius calculated from a two-velocity rocket model see text for left 8 mm radius array on MAGPIE at 160 ns, and right 10 mm radius array on Z at 100 ns.

approximately an order of magnitude at similar radial locations to those measured in the lower current experiments. The axial density contrast that would be expected if a twovelocity ablation model is used to describe the flaring structure can be calculated for the pairs of velocities obtained for the MAGPIE and COBRA results the examples below use the MAGPIE current drive and the predictions for Z. These are shown in Fig. 16. For the MAGPIE case the separation in velocities is small, as dictated by the error bars from precursor column formation timing, and this gives an axial density contrast between 0.8 and 2. Close to the wire position, this value is 2, which is in good agreement with experimental measurement of this density variation measured in this work and elsewhere.72 For the Z case, the large spread in velocities creates a large density contrast. If measurements of the flare contrast were possible on Z, values greater than an order of magnitude would be expected close to the wire position right plot in Fig. 16 . It is interesting to note that in both cases the plasma density is expected to become more uniform in the axial direction as the plasma moves toward the axis at r = 0. This perhaps suggests that the contrast ratio of the flare structure is determined by the current level not the rise rate. In this case the change of approximately an order of magnitude from 1 to 20 MA can be used to infer the change expected on a 60 MA ignition scale device. The factor of 2–3 increase in drive current would change the axial density contrast by only a small factor, perhaps by 50%, suggesting that in this sense the ablation dynamics at 60 MA may be similar to those observed on Z. The use of the refurbished Z machine at 28 MA to investigate mass ablation rates in arrays using both long 400 ns and short 100 ns pulse mode should provide a good basis for scaling to larger power devices.

PIE experiments, as a result of the higher kinetic pressure at the column at formation due to the faster rise time. The time of formation and column temperature show very good agreement with an analytical scaling model derived from the rocket ablation model. The ability to closely predict the behavior of the precursor column on the 100 ns rise-time COBRA generator from results on the 250 ns rise time MAGPIE generator using a fixed ablation velocity is an indication that the scaled ablation rate is not strongly affected by the current rise time. The column formation time in particular, which relies on the advent of a defined ion density at the array axis, appears to scale in a predictable way with the change in rise time examined in this work. In addition, quantitative measurements of the precursor column density for Al and W on both MAGPIE and COBRA are close to estimates from the Rocket ablation model using the same ablation velocity, 1.5 105 m s−1, in both cases. The good correlation of predicted and measured precursor column temperatures also indicates that the use of a pressure balance model can be successfully applied for experiments on both generators. The error bars on experimental measurements of the column formation time allow an estimation of the extent to which the ablation rate may change and still agree with measurements presented here. These calculations suggest that the variation by a factor 2.5 in the current rise time could change the effective ablation velocity by a maximum of 30%. The study also highlights other factors may play a role, primarily in the qualitative and quantitative behavior of larger wire sizes in wire arrays. The work presented here demonstrates the need to characterize more closely the variation of the mass ablation rate with initial wire size in view of the need to use larger wire diameters on larger current drive machines, such as those currently under consideration as an ICF ignition driver.

This work was supported by the DOE Junior Faculty Under Grant No. DE-FG-05ER4842, and a grant from the Center of Excellence for Pulsed Power Driven High Energy Density Physics, Cornell University. Work at Imperial College London was sponsored by the NNSA under DOE Cooperative Agreement No. DE-F03-02NA00057.

The experimental work presented demonstrates that the formation of the precursor column in cylindrical wire arrays on the COBRA generator 1 MA, 100 ns forms in a qualitatively similar way to that of comparable arrays on MAGPIE 1 MA, 250 ns . X-ray emission measurements along with radial streak images report the formation time of the column for both Al and W arrays and laser shadowography and axial gated XUV self-emission image sequences are directly comparable to previous MAGPIE experiments. In addition, XUV spectroscopy suggests that the precursor column electron temperature on COBRA is 70–165 eV, which is greater than the column temperature of 50–60 eV for MAG-

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