Publications Schedule

Experimental Focus

The TPW Science strategy has been developed with the goal of deriving high-quality science results from a carefully considered set of three primary topics:

While these are the top priority topics, we conduct research on a variety of high energy density science experiments, as reflected in the experimental schedule.

Proton Acceleration and Proton Beam Isochoric Heating of Dense Plasmas

This thrust involves characterizing the protons that are produced by target normal sheath acceleration and other mechanisms from the focusing of petawatt pulses onto thin foils and then using these protons beams to heat secondary solid targets to temperatures of 10 to 100 eV while the target is still at solid density. In this way, we perform off-Hugoniot equation-of-state measurements of solid density plasmas heated volumetrically by these protons. A current focus is transition metals such as copper, where EOS models are difficult and have widely varying predictions.

Once this characterization is completed, we will perform off-Hugoniot equation-of-state measurements of solid density plasmas heated volumetrically by these protons. We will explore the EOS of a high Z material such as gold, where EOS models are difficult and have widely varying predictions.

Wakefield Electron Acceleration Above a GeV

This second thrust involves the continuation of a science campaign already initiated on the TPW by Co-investigator Mike Downer and his group. It involves the creation of a long (multi‑cm) plasma wake by a petawatt pulse focused into a gas cell which will be capable of accelerating electrons to energies of 5–7 GeV. These experiments will rely on self-injection of electrons into the plasma wake structure, a process that appears to have happened in the first set of wakefield experiments on the TPW in the fall of 2010.

Fusion Neutron Generation in Pulsed Magnetic Fields

This thrust builds on our already successful experiments on the TPW laser to generate large numbers of DD fusion neutrons at 2.45 MeV. We performed initial experiments on the TPW where we focused the petawatt pulse into a gas jet composed of large deuterium clusters. The explosions of these clusters created a high-ion-temperature plasma which produced over 107 thermal fusion neutrons.

In a collaborative LDRD project at Sandia, Sandia scientists have constructed a pulsed power device for this experiment which will create transient magnetic fields approaching 200 T. The introduction of these B‑fields in and around the cluster fusion plasma should lead to transient plasma confinement and a large enhancement of fusion yield.