Electron acceleration in laboratory-produced turbulent collisionless shocks
Astrophysical collisionless shocks are among the most powerful particle accelerators in the Universe. Generated by violent interactions of supersonic plasma flows with the interstellar medium, supernova remnant shocks are observed to amplify magnetic fields1 and accelerate electrons and protons to highly relativistic speeds2,3,4. In the well-established model of diffusive shock acceleration5, relativistic particles are accelerated by repeated shock crossings. However, this requires a separate mechanism that pre-accelerates particles to enable shock crossing. This is known as the ‘injection problem’, which is particularly relevant for electrons, and remains one of the most important puzzles in shock acceleration6. In most astrophysical shocks, the details of the shock structure cannot be directly resolved, making it challenging to identify the injection mechanism. Here we report results from laser-driven plasma flow experiments, and related simulations, that probe the formation of turbulent collisionless shocks in conditions relevant to young supernova remnants. We show that electrons can be effectively accelerated in a first-order Fermi process by small-scale turbulence produced within the shock transition to relativistic non-thermal energies, helping overcome the injection problem. Our observations provide new insight into electron injection at shocks and open the way for controlled laboratory studies of the physics underlying cosmic accelerators.
Demonstration of X-ray Thomson scattering as diagnostics for miscibility in warm dense matter
Nature Communications 11, Article number: 26202020
The gas and ice giants in our solar system can be seen as a natural laboratory for the physics of highly compressed matter at temperatures up to thousands of kelvins. In turn, our understanding of their structure and evolution depends critically on our ability to model such matter. One key aspect is the miscibility of the elements in their interiors. Here, we demonstrate the feasibility of X-ray Thomson scattering to quantify the degree of species separation in a 1:1 carbon–hydrogen mixture at a pressure of ~150 GPa and a temperature of ~5000 K. Our measurements provide absolute values of the structure factor that encodes the microscopic arrangement of the particles. From these data, we find a lower limit of % of the carbon atoms forming isolated carbon clusters. In principle, this procedure can be employed for investigating the miscibility behaviour of any binary mixture at the high-pressure environment of planetary interiors, in particular, for non-crystalline samples where it is difficult to obtain conclusive results from X-ray diffraction. Moreover, this method will enable unprecedented measurements of mixing/demixing kinetics in dense plasma environments, e.g., induced by chemistry or hydrodynamic instabilities.
In situ X-ray diffraction of silicate liquids and glasses under dynamic and static compression to megabar pressures
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 152020
Properties of liquid silicates under high-pressure and high-temperature conditions are critical for modeling the dynamics and solidification mechanisms of the magma ocean in the early Earth, as well as for constraining entrainment of melts in the mantle and in the present-day core–mantle boundary. Here we present in situ structural measurements by X-ray diffraction of selected amorphous silicates compressed statically in diamond anvil cells (up to 157 GPa at room temperature) or dynamically by laser-generated shock compression (up to 130 GPa and 6,000 K along the MgSiO3 glass Hugoniot). The X-ray diffraction patterns of silicate glasses and liquids reveal similar characteristics over a wide pressure and temperature range. Beyond the increase in Si coordination observed at 20 GPa, we find no evidence for major structural changes occurring in the silicate melts studied up to pressures and temperatures exceeding Earth’s core mantle boundary conditions. This result is supported by molecular dynamics calculations. Our findings reinforce the widely used assumption that the silicate glasses studies are appropriate structural analogs for understanding the atomic arrangement of silicate liquids at these high pressures.
Measurement of diamond nucleation rates from hydrocarbons at conditions comparable to the interiors of icy giant planets
Physics Review B. 101 0533012020
We present measurements of the nucleation rate into a diamond lattice in dynamically compressed polystyrene obtained in a pump-probe experiment using a high-energy laser system and in situ femtosecond x-ray diffraction. Different temperature-pressure conditions that occur in planetary interiors were probed. For a single shock reaching 70 GPa and 3000 K no diamond formation was observed, while with a double shock driving polystyrene to pressures around 150 GPa and temperatures around 5000 K nucleation rates between 1029 and 1034m−3 s−1 were recorded. These nucleation rates do not agree with predictions of the state-of-the-art theoretical models for carbon-hydrogen mixtures by many orders of magnitude. Our data suggest that there is significant diamond formation to be expected inside icy giant planets like Neptune and Uranus.
Using simultaneous x-ray diffraction and velocity interferometry to determine material strength in shock-compressed diamond
Applied Physics Letters 1152020
We determine the strength of laser shock-compressed polycrystalline diamond at stresses above the Hugoniot elastic limit using a technique combining x-ray diffraction from the Linac Coherent Light Source with velocity interferometry. X-ray diffraction is used to measure lattice strains, and velocity interferometry is used to infer shock and particle velocities. These measurements, combined with density-dependent elastic constants calculated using density functional theory, enable determination of material strength above the Hugoniot elastic limit. Our results indicate that diamond retains approximately 20 GPa of strength at longitudinal stresses of 150–300 GPa under shock compression.
Sodium-potassium system at high pressure
Physiccs Review B 101, 2241082020
Mixtures of sodium and potassium differ substantially from the pure elements, while retaining the high compressibility, which is important to the complex behavior of dense alkali metals. We present powder x-ray diffraction of mixtures of Na and K compressed in diamond anvil cells to 48 GPa at 295 K. This reveals two stoichiometric intermetallics: an Na2K phase known at ambient pressure and low temperature, and a novel NaK phase formed of interpenetrating sodium and potassium diamond lattices. Density functional theory calculations find the new phase to be dynamically stable and, in contrast to pure alkali metals, reveal decreasing electron localization with applied pressure. Depending on the mixture composition these intermetallics are accompanied by sodium or potassium rich phases suggesting that there are no other intermetallics under the range of P-T conditions studied. Alkali-metal mixtures have seen little study at high pressure and represent an unusual class of materials with very high compressibility and multiple constituents. Such materials exhibit significant compression at experimentally accessible pressures and open a way to measure multispecies structures at high compression. These results challenge structural finding algorithms for mixtures in high-pressure conditions.
On the local measurement of electric currents and magnetic fields using Thomson scattering in Weibel-unstable plasmas
Physics of Plasmas 27, 0521042020
We demonstrate the capability of the Thomson Scattering (TS) diagnostic to measure locally the microscopic electron and ion currents in counter-streaming plasmas unstable to the Weibel or current-filamentation instability. Synthetic TS spectra are calculated with particle distribution functions obtained from particle-in-cell simulations and used to accurately reproduce the simulated currents. We show that this technique allows accurate local measurements of the magnetic field, thus opening the way for the complete experimental characterization of the growth rate, saturation, and nonlinear dynamics of electromagnetic instabilities in plasmas. We illustrate the application of this diagnostic to experimental TS data, which yields local measurements of the magnetic field in Weibel-unstable plasmas and indicates that the magnetic energy density reaches % of the kinetic energy density of the flows, in agreement with previous numerical studies.
Cryogenic Liquid Jets for High Repetition Rate Discovery Science
J. Vis. Exp. (159), e611302020
This protocol presents a detailed procedure for the operation of continuous, micron-sized cryogenic cylindrical and planar liquid jets. When operated as described here, the jet exhibits high laminarity and stability for centimeters. Successful operation of a cryogenic liquid jet in the Rayleigh regime requires a basic understanding of fluid dynamics and thermodynamics at cryogenic temperatures. Theoretical calculations and typical empirical values are provided as a guide to design a comparable system. This report identifies the importance of both cleanliness during cryogenic source assembly and stability of the cryogenic source temperature once liquefied. The system can be used for high repetition rate laser-driven proton acceleration, with an envisioned application in proton therapy. Other applications include laboratory astrophysics, materials science, and next-generation particle accelerators.
Laser cutting apparatus for high energy density and diamond anvil cell science
Journal of Instrumentation 15, P050042020
We present a low-cost, high-resolution laser cutting system designed for use in the fabrication of samples for high energy density physics. Such samples are necessarily small but require precision and repeatability, particularly with the recently available high repetition rates possible at modern facilities. The system allows simultaneous laser cutting, using nanosecond near-infrared laser pulses, and optical microscopy so that the cut can be monitored in real time. The capabilities of the system are demonstrated on a range of materials for both laser-matter interaction targets and components for high pressure diamond anvil cell experiment.
Measurements of the momentum-dependence of plasmonic excitations in matter around 1 Mbar using an X-ray free electron laser
Applied Physics Letters 114, 0141012019
We present measurements of the plasmon shift in shock-compressed matter as a function of momentum transfer beyond the Fermi wavevector using an X-ray Free Electron Laser. We eliminate the elastically scattered signal retaining only the inelastic plasmon signal. Our plasmon dispersion agrees with both the random phase approximation (RPA) and static Local Field Corrections (sLFC) for an electron gas at both zero and finite temperature. Further, we find the inclusion of electron-ion collisions through the Born-Mermin Approximation (BMA) to have no effect. Whilst we cannot distinguish between RPA and sLFC within our error bars, our data suggest that dynamic effects should be included for LFC and provide a route forward for higher resolution future measurements.
High-Pressure Melt Curve and Phase Diagram of Lithium
Phys. Rev. Lett. 123 0657012019
We investigate the phase diagram of lithium at temperatures of 200 to 400 K, to pressures over 100 GPa using x-ray diffraction in diamond anvil cells, covering the region in which the melting curve is disputed. To overcome degradation of the diamond anvils by dense lithium we utilize a rapid compression scheme taking advantage of the high flux available at modern synchrotrons. Our results show the hR1 and cI16 phases to be stable to higher temperature than previously reported. The melting minima of lithium is found to be close to room temperature between 40 and 60 GPa, below which the solid is crystalline. Analysis of the stability fields of the cI16 and oC88 phases suggest the existence of a triple point between these and an undetermined solid phase at 60 GPa between 220 and 255 K.
Comment on “Isochoric, isobaric, and ultrafast conductivities of aluminum, lithium, and carbon in the warm dense matter regime”,
Phys. Rev. E. 99 0472012019
Dharma-wardana et al. [M. W. C. Dharma-wardana et al., Phys. Rev. E 96, 053206 (2017)] recently calculated dynamic electrical conductivities for warm dense matter as well as for nonequilibrium two-temperature states termed “ultrafast matter” (UFM) [M. W. C. Dharma-wardana, Phys. Rev. E 93, 063205 (2016)]. In this Comment we present two evident reasons why these UFM calculations are neither suited to calculate dynamic conductivities nor x-ray Thomson scattering spectra in isochorically heated warm dense aluminum. First, the ion-ion structure factor, a major input into the conductivity and scattering spectra calculations, deviates strongly from that of isochorically heated aluminum. Second, the dynamic conductivity does not show a non-Drude behavior which is an essential prerequisite for a correct description of the absorption behavior in aluminum. Additionally, we clarify misinterpretations by Dharma-wardana et al. concerning the conductivity measurements of Gathers [G. R. Gathers, Int. J. Thermophys. 4, 209 (1983)].
Visualization of ultrafast melting initiated from radiation-driven defects in solids
Science Advances 5 eaaw03922019
Materials exposed to extreme radiation environments such as fusion reactors or deep spaces accumulate substantial defect populations that alter their properties and subsequently the melting behavior. The quantitative characterization requires visualization with femtosecond temporal resolution on the atomic-scale length through measurements of the pair correlation function. Here, we demonstrate experimentally that electron diffraction at relativistic energies opens a new approach for studies of melting kinetics. Our measurements in radiation-damaged tungsten show that the tungsten target subjected to 10 displacements per atom of damage undergoes a melting transition below the melting temperature. Two-temperature molecular dynamics simulations reveal the crucial role of defect clusters, particularly nanovoids, in driving the ultrafast melting process observed on the time scale of less than 10 ps. These results provide new atomic-level insights into the ultrafast melting processes of materials in extreme environments.
Evidence for Crystalline Structure in Dynamically-Compressed Polyethylene up to 200 GPa
Scientific Report, 9, 41962019
We investigated the high-pressure behavior of polyethylene (CH2) by probing dynamically-compressed samples with X-ray diffraction. At pressures up to 200 GPa, comparable to those present inside icy giant planets (Uranus, Neptune), shock-compressed polyethylene retains a polymer crystal structure, from which we infer the presence of significant covalent bonding. The A2/m structure which we observe has previously been seen at significantly lower pressures, and the equation of state measured agrees with our findings. This result appears to contrast with recent data from shock-compressed polystyrene (CH) at higher temperatures, which demonstrated demixing and recrystallization into a diamond lattice, implying the breaking of the original chemical bonds. As such chemical processes have significant implications for the structure and energy transfer within ice giants, our results highlight the need for a deeper understanding of the chemistry of high pressure hydrocarbons, and the importance of better constraining planetary temperature profiles.
Improved large-energy-range magnetic electron-positron spectrometer for experiments with the Texas Petawatt Laser
Journal of Instrumentation, Volume 142019
We present the design, construction, and first use of a magnetic electron-positron spectrometer at the Texas Petawatt Laser facility. The Global Spectrometer for Positron and Electron Characterization (GSPEC) is capable of detecting electrons and positrons over a large energy range from 3–150 MeV and has been designed to diagnose the electrons and positrons accelerated by high-intensity laser interactions with over-critical targets.
Terahertz-based subfemtosecond metrology of relativistic electron beams
PHYSICAL REVIEW ACCELERATORS AND BEAMS 22, 0128032019
We demonstrate single-shot temporal characterization of relativistic electron bunches using single-cycle terahertz (THz) field streaking. A transverse deflecting structure consisting of a metal slit enables efficient coupling of the THz field and electron bunch. The intrinsically stable carrier envelope phase and strong gradient of the THz pulses allow simultaneous, self-calibrated determination of the time-of-arrival with subfemtosecond precision and bunch duration with single-femtosecond precision, respectively, opening up new opportunities for ultrafast electron diffraction as well as accelerator technologies in general.
Characterizing the ionization potential depression in dense carbon plasmas with high-precision spectrally resolved x-ray scattering
PLASMA PHYSICS AND CONTROLLED FUSION 61, 0140152019
We discuss the possibility of obtaining highly precise measurements of the ionization potential depression in dense plasmas with spectrally resolved x-ray scattering, while simultaneously determining the electron temperature and the free electron density. A proof-of-principle experiment at the Linac Coherent Light Source, probing isochorically heated carbon samples, demonstrates the capabilities of this method and motivates future experiments at x-ray free electron laser facilities.
Terahertz-based attosecond metrology of relativistic electron beams
Physical Review Accelerators and Beams, 22, 0128032019
Photons, electrons, and their interplay are at the heart of photonic devices and modern instruments for ultrafast science [1-10]. Nowadays, electron beams of the highest intensity and brightness are created by photoemission with short laser pulses, and then accelerated and manipulated using GHz radiofrequency electromagnetic fields. The electron beams are utilized to directly map photoinduced dynamics with ultrafast electron scattering techniques, or further engaged for coherent radiation production at up to hard X-ray wavelengths [11-13]. The push towards improved timing precision between the electron beams and pump optical pulses though, has been stalled at the few tens of femtosecond level, due to technical challenges with synchronizing the high power rf fields with optical sources. Here, we demonstrate attosecond electron metrology using laser-generated single-cycle THz radiation, which is intrinsically phase locked to the optical drive pulses, to manipulate multi-MeV relativistic electron beams. Control and single-shot characterization of bright electron beams at this unprecedented level open up many new opportunities for atomic visualization.
Characterizing filamentary magnetic structures in counter-streaming plasmas by Fourier analysis of proton images
Physics of Plasmas 26, 1023032019Proton imaging is a powerful tool for probing electromagnetic fields in a plasma, providing a path-integrated map of the field topology. However, in cases where the field structure is highly inhomogeneous, inferring spatial properties of the underlying field from proton images can be difficult. This problem is exemplified by recent experiments, which used proton imaging to probe the filamentary magnetic field structures produced by the Weibel instability in collisionless counterstreaming plasmas. In this paper, we perform analytical and numerical analyses of proton images of systems containing many magnetic filaments. We find that, in general, the features observed on proton images do not directly correspond to the spacing between magnetic filaments (the magnetic wavelength) as has previously been assumed and that they instead correspond to the filament size. We demonstrate this result by Fourier analysis of synthetic proton images for many randomized configurations of magnetic filaments. Our results help guide the interpretation of experimental proton images of filamentary magnetic structures in plasmas.
Generation and characterization of ultrathin free-flowing liquid sheets
Nature Communications 9, 13532018
The physics and chemistry of liquid solutions play a central role in science, and our understanding of life on Earth. Unfortunately, key tools for interrogating aqueous systems, such as infrared and soft X-ray spectroscopy, cannot readily be applied because of strong absorption in water. Here we use gas-dynamic forces to generate free-flowing, sub-micron, liquid sheets which are two orders of magnitude thinner than anything previously reported. Optical, infrared, and X-ray spectroscopies are used to characterize the sheets, which are found to be tunable in thickness from over 1 μm down to less than 20 nm, which corresponds to fewer than 100 water molecules thick. At this thickness, aqueous sheets can readily transmit photons across the spectrum, leading to potentially transformative applications in infrared, X-ray, electron spectroscopies and beyond. The ultrathin sheets are stable for days in vacuum, and we demonstrate their use at free-electron laser and synchrotron light sources.
Enhanced ion acceleration in transition from opaque to transparent plasmas
New J. Phys. 20, 0430472018
Using particle-in-cell simulations, we investigate ion acceleration in the interaction of high intensity lasers with plasmas which transition from opaque to transparent during the interaction process. We show that the highest ion energies are achieved when the laser traverses the target around the peak intensity and re-heats the electron population responsible for the plasma expansion, enhancing the corresponding sheath electric field. This process can lead to an increase of up to 2x in ion energy when compared with the standard Target Normal Sheath Acceleration in opaque targets under the same laser conditions. A theoretical model is developed to predict the optimal target areal density as a function of laser intensity and pulse duration. A systematic parametric scan for a wide range of target densities and thicknesses is performed in 1D, 2D and 3D and shown consistent with the theory and with recent experimental results. These results open the way for a better optimization of the ion energy in future laser–solid experiments.
Observations of non-linear plasmon damping in dense plasmas
Physics of Plasmas 25, 0569012018
We present simulations using finite-temperature density-functional-theory molecular-dynamics to calculate dynamic dielectric properties in warm dense aluminum. The comparison between exchange-correlation functionals in the Perdew, Burke, Ernzerhof approximation, Strongly Constrained and Appropriately Normed Semilocal Density Functional, and Heyd, Scuseria, Ernzerhof (HSE) approximation indicates evident differences in the electron transition energies, dc conductivity, and Lorenz number. The HSE calculations show excellent agreement with x-ray scattering data [Witte et al., Phys. Rev. Lett. 118, 225001 (2017)] as well as dc conductivity and absorption measurements. These findings demonstrate non-Drude behavior of the dynamic conductivity above the Cooper minimum that needs to be taken into account to determine optical properties in the warm dense matter regime.
High-pressure chemistry of hydrocarbons relevant to planetary interiors and inertial confinement fusion
Physics of Plasmas 25, 0563132018
Diamond formation in polystyrene (C8H8)n, which is laser-compressed and heated to conditions around 150 GPa and 5000 K, has recently been demonstrated in the laboratory [Kraus et al., Nat. Astron. 1, 606–611 (2017)]. Here, we show an extended analysis and comparison to first-principles simulations of the acquired data and their implications for planetary physics and inertial confinement fusion. Moreover, we discuss the advanced diagnostic capabilities of adding high-quality small angle X-ray scattering and spectrally resolved X-ray scattering to the platform, which shows great prospects of precisely studying the kinetics of chemical reactions in dense plasma environments at pressures exceeding 100 GPa.
A sensitive EUV Schwarzschild microscope for plasma studies with sub-micrometer resolution
Review of Scientific Instruments 89, 0237032018
We present an extreme ultraviolet (EUV) microscope using a Schwarzschild objective which is optimized for single-shot sub-micrometer imaging of laser-plasma targets. The microscope has been designed and constructed for imaging the scattering from an EUV-heated solid-density hydrogen jet. Imaging of a cryogenic hydrogen target was demonstrated using single pulses of the free-electron laser in Hamburg (FLASH) free-electron laser at a wavelength of 13.5 nm. In a single exposure, we observe a hydrogen jet with ice fragments with a spatial resolution in the sub-micrometer range. In situ EUV imaging is expected to enable novel experimental capabilities for warm dense matter studies of micrometer-sized samples in laser-plasma experiments.
Influence of argon impurities on the elastic scattering of x-rays from imploding beryllium capsules
High Energy Density Physics 26, 862018
We investigate the effect of argon impurities on the elastic component of x-ray scattering spectra taken from directly driven beryllium capsule implosions at the OMEGA laser. The plasma conditions were obtained in a previous analysis  by fitting the inelastic scattering component. We show that the known argon impurity in the beryllium modifies the elastic scattering due to the larger number of bound electrons. We indeed find significant deviations in the elastic scattering from roughly 1 at.% argon contained in the beryllium. With knowledge of the argon impurity fraction, we use the elastic scattering component to determine the charge state of the compressed beryllium, as the fits are rather insensitive to the argon charge state. Finally, we discuss how doping small fractions of mid- or high-Z elements into low-Z materials could allow ionization balance studies in dense plasmas.
Equation of state and electron localisation in fcc lithium
Journal of Applied Physics 123, 0659012018
We present an improved equation of state for the high-pressure fcc phase of lithium with ambient temperature experimental data, extending the pressure range of previous studies to 36 GPa. The accompanying density functional theory calculations, which reproduce the experimental equation of state, show that with increasing density, the phase diverges from a nearly free electron metal. At the high pressure limit of its stability, fcc lithium exhibits enhanced electron density at the octahedral interstices with a high degree of localisation.
Formation of diamonds in laser-compressed hydrocarbons at planetary interior conditions
Nature Astron. 1, 6062017
The effects of hydrocarbon reactions and diamond precipitation on the internal structure and evolution of icy giant planets such as Neptune and Uranus have been discussed for more than three decades1. Inside these celestial bodies, simple hydrocarbons such as methane, which are highly abundant in the atmospheres2, are believed to undergo structural transitions3,4 that release hydrogen from deeper layers and may lead to compact stratified cores5,6,7. Indeed, from the surface towards the core, the isentropes of Uranus and Neptune intersect a temperature–pressure regime in which methane first transforms into a mixture of hydrocarbon polymers8, whereas, in deeper layers, a phase separation into diamond and hydrogen may be possible. Here we show experimental evidence for this phase separation process obtained by in situ X-ray diffraction from polystyrene (C8H8)n samples dynamically compressed to conditions around 150 GPa and 5,000 K; these conditions resemble the environment around 10,000 km below the surfaces of Neptune and Uranus9. Our findings demonstrate the necessity of high pressures for initiating carbon–hydrogen separation3 and imply that diamond precipitation may require pressures about ten times as high as previously indicated by static compression experiments4,8,10. Our results will inform mass–radius relationships of carbon-bearing exoplanets11, provide constraints for their internal layer structure and improve evolutionary models of Uranus and Neptune, in which carbon–hydrogen separation could influence the convective heat transport7.
High repetition rate, multi-MeV proton source from cryogenic hydrogen jets
Applied Physics Letters 111, 1141022017
We report on a high repetition rate proton source produced by high-intensity laser irradiation of a continuously flowing, cryogenic hydrogen jet. The proton energy spectra are recorded at 1 Hz for Draco laser powers of 6, 20, 40, and 100 TW. The source delivers protons/MeV/sr/min. We find that the average proton number over one minute, at energies sufficiently far from the cut-off energy, is robust to laser-target overlap and nearly constant. This work is therefore a first step towards pulsed laser-driven proton sources for time-resolved radiation damage studies and applications which require quasi-continuous doses at MeV energies.
Electrostatic fluctuations in collisional plasmas
Phys. Rev. E 96, 0432072017
We present a theory of electrostatic fluctuations in two-component plasmas where electrons and ions are described by Maxwellian distribution functions at unequal temperatures. Based on the exact solution of the Landau kinetic equation, that includes electron-electron, electron-ion, and ion-ion collision integrals, the dynamic form factor, S(→k,ω), is derived for weakly coupled plasmas. The collective plasma responses at ion-acoustic, Langmuir, and entropy mode resonances are described for arbitrary wave numbers and frequencies in the entire range of plasma collisionality. The collisionless limit of S(→k,ω) and the strong-collision result based on the fluctuation-dissipation theorem and classical transport at Te=Ti are recovered and discussed. Results of several Thomson scattering experiments in the broad range of plasma parameters are described and discussed by means of our theory for S(→k,ω).
Nanometer-scale characterization of laser-driven compression, shocks, and phase transitions, by x-ray scattering using free electron lasers
Physics of Plasmas 24, 1027092017
We study the feasibility of using small angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) as a new experimental diagnostic for intense laser-solid interactions. By using X-ray pulses from a hard X-ray free electron laser, we can simultaneously achieve nanometer and femtosecond resolution of laser-driven samples. This is an important new capability for the Helmholtz international beamline for extreme fields at the high energy density endstation currently built at the European X-ray free electron laser. We review the relevant SAXS theory and its application to transient processes in solid density plasmas and report on first experimental results that confirm the feasibility of the method. We present results of two test experiments where the first experiment employs ultra-short laser pulses for studying relativistic laser plasma interactions, and the second one focuses on shock compression studies with a nanosecond laser system.
Efficient laser-driven proton acceleration from cylindrical and planar cryogenic hydrogen jets
Scientific Reports (Nature) 7: 102482017
We report on recent experimental results deploying a continuous cryogenic hydrogen jet as a debris-free, renewable laser-driven source of pure proton beams generated at the 150 TW ultrashort pulse laser Draco. Efficient proton acceleration reaching cut-off energies of up to 20 MeV with particle numbers exceeding 109 particles per MeV per steradian is demonstrated, showing for the first time that the acceleration performance is comparable to solid foil targets with thicknesses in the micrometer range. Two different target geometries are presented and their proton beam deliverance characterized: cylindrical (∅ 5 μm) and planar (20 μm × 2 μm). In both cases typical Target Normal Sheath Acceleration emission patterns with exponential proton energy spectra are detected. Significantly higher proton numbers in laser-forward direction are observed when deploying the planar jet as compared to the cylindrical jet case. This is confirmed by two-dimensional Particle-in-Cell (2D3V PIC) simulations, which demonstrate that the planar jet proves favorable as its geometry leads to more optimized acceleration conditions.
Warm Dense Matter Demonstrating Non-Drude Conductivity from Observations of Nonlinear Plasmon Damping
Phys. Rev. Lett. 118, 2250012017
We present simulations using finite-temperature density-functional-theory molecular dynamics to calculate the dynamic electrical conductivity in warm dense aluminum. The comparison between exchange-correlation functionals in the Perdew-Burke-Enzerhof and Heyd-Scuseria-Enzerhof (HSE) approximation indicates evident differences in the density of states and the dc conductivity. The HSE calculations show excellent agreement with experimental Linac Coherent Light Source x-ray plasmon scattering spectra revealing plasmon damping below the widely used random phase approximation. These findings demonstrate non-Drude-like behavior of the dynamic conductivity that needs to be taken into account to determine the optical properties of warm dense matter.
Relativistic Electron Streaming Instabilities Modulate Proton Beams Accelerated in Laser-Plasma Interactions
Phys. Rev. Lett. 118, 1948012017
We report experimental evidence that multi-MeV protons accelerated in relativistic laser-plasma interactions are modulated by strong filamentary electromagnetic fields. Modulations are observed when a preplasma is developed on the rear side of a μm-scale solid-density hydrogen target. Under such conditions, electromagnetic fields are amplified by the relativistic electron Weibel instability and are maximized at the critical density region of the target. The analysis of the spatial profile of the protons indicates the generation of B>10 MG and E>0.1 MV/μm fields with a μm-scale wavelength. These results are in good agreement with three-dimensional particle-in-cell simulations and analytical estimates, which further confirm that this process is dominant for different target materials provided that a preplasma is formed on the rear side with scale length ≳0.13λ0√. These findings impose important constraints on the preplasma levels required for high-quality proton acceleration for multipurpose applications.
Ab initio simulations of the dynamic ion structure factor of warm dense lithium
Phys. Rev. B 95, 1441052017
We present molecular dynamics simulations based on finite-temperature density functional theory that determine self-consistently the dynamic ion structure factor and the electronic form factor in lithium. Our comprehensive data set allows for the calculation of the dispersion relation for collective excitations, the calculation of the sound velocity, and the determination of the ion feature from the total electronic form factor and the ion structure factor. The results are compared with available experimental x-ray and neutron scattering data. Good agreement is found for both the liquid metal and warm dense matter domain. Finally, we study the impact of possible target inhomogeneities on x-ray scattering spectra.
Observation of Betatron X-Ray Radiation in a Self-Modulated Laser Wakefield Accelerator Driven with Picosecond Laser Pulses
Phys. Rev. Lett. 118, 1348012017
We investigate a new regime for betatron x-ray emission that utilizes kilojoule-class picosecond lasers to drive wakes in plasmas. When such laser pulses with intensities of are focused into plasmas with electron densities of , they undergo self-modulation and channeling, which accelerates electrons up to 200 MeV energies and causes those electrons to emit x rays. The measured x-ray spectra are fit with a synchrotron spectrum with a critical energy of 10–20 keV, and 2D particle-in-cell simulations were used to model the acceleration and radiation of the electrons in our experimental conditions.
A strong diffusive ion mode in dense ionized matter predicted by Langevin dynamics
Nature Communications 8, 141252017
The state and evolution of planets, brown dwarfs and neutron star crusts is determined by the properties of dense and compressed matter. Due to the inherent difficulties in modelling strongly coupled plasmas, however, current predictions of transport coefficients differ by orders of magnitude. Collective modes are a prominent feature, whose spectra may serve as an important tool to validate theoretical predictions for dense matter. With recent advances in free electron laser technology, X-rays with small enough bandwidth have become available, allowing the investigation of the low-frequency ion modes in dense matter. Here, we present numerical predictions for these ion modes and demonstrate significant changes to their strength and dispersion if dissipative processes are included by Langevin dynamics. Notably, a strong diffusive mode around zero frequency arises, which is not present, or much weaker, in standard simulations. Our results have profound consequences in the interpretation of transport coefficients in dense plasmas.
The design of the optical Thomson scattering diagnostic for the National Ignition Facility
Review of Scientific Instruments 87, 11E5492016
The National Ignition Facility (NIF) is a 192 laser beam facility designed to support the Stockpile Stewardship, High Energy Density and Inertial Confinement Fusion (ICF) programs. We report on the design of an Optical Thomson Scattering (OTS) diagnostic that has the potential to transform the community’s understanding of NIF hohlraum physics by providing first principle, local, time-resolved measurements of under-dense plasma conditions. The system design allows operation with different probe laser wavelengths by manual selection of the appropriate beam splitter and gratings before the shot. A deep-UV probe beam (λ-210 nm) will be used to optimize the scattered signal for plasmadensities of 5 × 1020 electrons/cm3 while a 3ω probe will be used for experiments investigating lower density plasmas of 1 × 1019 electrons/cm3. We report the phase I design of a two phase design strategy. Phase I includes the OTS telescope, spectrometer, and streak camera; these will be used to assess the background levels at NIF. Phase II will include the design and installation of a probe laser.
A single-shot spatial chirp method for measuring initial AC conductivity evolution of femtosecond laser pulse excited warm dense matter
Review of Scientific Instruments 87, 11E5482016
To study the rapid evolution of AC conductivity from ultrafast laser excited warm dense matter (WDM), aspatial chirp single-shot method is developed utilizing a crossing angle pump-probe configuration. The pump beam is shaped individually in two spatial dimensions so that it can provide both sufficient laser intensity to excite the material to warm dense matter state and a uniform time window of up to 1 ps with sub-100 fs FWHM temporal resolution. Temporal evolution of AC conductivity in laser excited warm densegold was also measured.
Dual crystal x-ray spectrometer at 1.8 keV for high repetition-rate single-photon counting spectroscopy experiments
Journal of Instrumentation 112016
With the recent development of high-repetition rate x-ray free electron lasers (FEL), it is now possible to perform x-ray scattering and emission spectroscopy measurements from thin foils or gasses heated to high-energy density conditions by integrating over many experimental shots. Since the expected signal may be weaker than the typical CCD readout noise over the region-of-interest, it is critical to the success of this approach to use a detector with high-energy resolution so that single x-ray photons may be isolated. Here we describe a dual channel x-ray spectrometer developed for the Atomic and Molecular Optics endstation at the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) for x-ray spectroscopy near the K-edge of aluminum. The spectrometer is based on a pair of curved PET (002) crystals coupled to a single pnCCD detector which simultaneously measures x-ray scattering and emission in the forward and backward directions. The signals from single x-ray photons are accumulated permitting continuous single-shot acquisition at 120 Hz.
High-intensity laser-accelerated ion beam produced from cryogenic micro-jet target
Review of Scientific Instrumnets 87, 11D8272016
We report on the successful operation of a newly developed cryogenic jet target at high intensity laser-irradiation. Using the frequency-doubled Titan short pulse laser system at Jupiter Laser Facility, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, we demonstrate the generation of a pure proton beam a with maximum energy of 2 MeV. Furthermore, we record a quasi-monoenergetic peak at 1.1 MeV in the proton spectrumemitted in the laser forward direction suggesting an alternative acceleration mechanism. Using a solid-density mixed hydrogen-deuterium target, we are also able to produce pure proton-deuteron ion beams.With its high purity, limited size, near-critical density, and high-repetition rate capability, this target is promising for future applications.
Development of a cryogenic hydrogen microjet for high-intensity, high-repetition rate experiments
Review of Scientific Instruments2016
The advent of high-intensity, high-repetition-rate lasers has led to the need for replenishing targets of interest for high energy density sciences. We describe the design and characterization of a cryogenic microjet source, which can deliver a continuous stream of liquid hydrogen with a diameter of a few microns. The jet has been imaged at 1 μm resolution by shadowgraphy with a short pulse laser. The pointing stability has been measured at well below a mrad, for a stable free-standing filament of solid-density hydrogen.
High resolution x-ray Thomson scattering measurements from cryogenic hydrogen gets using the linac coherent light source
Review of Scientific Instruments 87, 11E5242016
We present the first spectrally resolved measurements of x-rays scattered from cryogenic hydrogen jets in the single photon counting limit. The 120 Hz capabilities of the LCLS, together with a novel hydrogen jet design [J. B. Kim et al., Rev. Sci. Instrum. (these proceedings)], allow for the ability to record a near background free spectrum. Such high-dynamic-range x-ray scattering measurements enable a platform to study ultra-fast, laser-driven, heating dynamics of hydrogen plasmas. This measurement has been achieved using two highly annealed pyrolytic graphite crystal spectrometers to spectrally resolve 5.5 keVx-rays elastically and inelastically scattered from cryogenic hydrogen and focused on Cornell-SLAC pixel array detectors [S. Herrmann et al., Nucl. Instrum. Methods Phys. Res., Sect. A 718, 550 (2013)].
Measurement of high-dynamic range x-ray Thomson scattering spectra for the characterization of nano-plasmas at LCLS
Review of Scientific Instruments 87, 11E7092016
Atomic clusters can serve as ideal model systems for exploring ultrafast (∼100 fs) laser-driven ionization dynamics of dense matter on the nanometer scale. Resonant absorption of optical laser pulses enables heating to temperatures on the order of 1 keV at near solid density conditions. To date, direct probing of transient states of such nano-plasmas was limited to coherent x-ray imaging. Here we present the firstmeasurement of spectrally resolved incoherent x-ray scattering from clusters, enabling measurements of transient temperature, densities, and ionization. Single shot x-ray Thomson scattering signals were recorded at 120 Hz using a crystal spectrometer in combination with a single-photon counting and energy-dispersive pnCCD. A precise pump laser collimation scheme enabled recording near background-free scattering spectra from Ar clusters with an unprecedented dynamic range of more than 3 orders of magnitude. Such measurements are important for understanding collective effects in laser-matter interactions on femtosecond time scales, opening new routes for the development of schemes for their ultrafast control.
Single-shot mega-electronvolt ultrafast electron diffraction for structure dynamic studies of warm dense matter
Review of Scientific Instruments 87, 11D8102016
We have developed a single-shot mega-electronvolt ultrafast-electron-diffraction system to measure the structural dynamics of warm dense matter. The electron probe in this system is featured by a kinetic energy of 3.2 MeV and a total charge of 20 fC, with the FWHM pulse duration and spot size at sample of 350 fs and 120 μm respectively. We demonstrate its unique capability by visualizing the atomic structural changes of warm dense gold formed from a laser-excited 35-nm freestanding single-crystal gold foil. The temporal evolution of the Bragg peak intensity and of the liquid signal during solid-liquid phase transitionare quantitatively determined. This experimental capability opens up an exciting opportunity to unravel the atomic dynamics of structural phase transitions in warm dense matter regime.
Simulated performance of the optical Thomson scattering diagnostics designed for the National Ignition Facility
Review of Scientific Instruments 87, 11E5102016
An optical Thomson scattering diagnostic has been designed for the National Ignition Facility to characterize under-dense plasmas. We report on the design of the system and the expected performance for different target configurations. The diagnostic is designed to spatially and temporally resolve the Thomson scattered light from laser driven targets. The diagnostic will collect scattered light from a 50 × 50 × 200 = 210 nm) will be used to Thomson scatter from electron plasma densities of ∼5 × 1020 cm−3 while a 3 probe will be used for plasma densities of ∼1 × 1019 cm−3. The diagnostic package contains two spectrometers: the first to resolve Thomson scattering from ion acoustic wave fluctuations and the second to resolve scattering from electron plasma wave fluctuations. Expected signal levels relative to background will be presented for typical target configurations (hohlraums and a planar foil).m volume. The optical design allows operation with different probe laser wavelengths. A deep-UV probe beam (
Absolute dosimetric characterization of Gafchromic EBT3 and HDv2 films using commercial flat-bed scanner and evaluation of the scanner response function variability
Review of Scietific Instruments 87, 0733012016
Radiochromic films (RCF) are commonly used in dosimetry for a wide range of radiation sources (electrons, protons, and photons) for medical, industrial, and scientific applications. They are multi-layered, which includes plastic substrate layers and sensitive layers that incorporate a radiation-sensitive dye. Quantitative dose can be retrieved by digitizing the film, provided that a prior calibration exists. Here, to calibrate the newly developed EBT3 and HDv2 RCFs from Gafchromic™, we used the Stanford Medical LINAC to deposit in the films various doses of 10 MeV photons, and by scanning the films using three independent EPSON Precision 2450 scanners, three independent EPSON V750 scanners, and two independent EPSON 11000XL scanners. The films were scanned in separate RGB channels, as well as in black and white, and film orientation was varied. We found that the green channel of the RGB scan and the grayscale channel are in fact quite consistent over the different models of the scanner, although this comes at the cost of a reduction in sensitivity (by a factor ∼2.5 compared to the red channel). To allow any user to extend the absolute calibration reported here to any other scanner, we furthermore provide acalibration curve of the EPSON 2450 scanner based on absolutely calibrated, commercially available, optical density filters.
Tracking the density evolution in counter-propagating shock waves using imaging X-ray scattering
Applied Physics Letters 109, 0311082016
We present results from time-resolved X-ray imaging and inelastic scattering on collective excitations. These data are then employed to infer the mass density evolution within laser-driven shock waves. In our experiments, thin carbon foils are first strongly compressed and then driven into a dense state by counter-propagating shock waves. The different measurements agree that the graphite sample is about twofold compressed when the shock waves collide, and a sharp increase in forward scattering indicates disassembly of the sample 1 ns thereafter. We can benchmark hydrodynamics simulations of colliding shock waves by the X-ray scattering methods employed.
Matter of extreme conditions experiments at the Linac Coherent Light Source
Journal of Physics B 49 0920012016
The matter in extreme conditions end station at the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) is a new tool enabling accurate pump–probe measurements for studying the physical properties of matter in the high-energy density (HED) physics regime. This instrument combines the world's brightest x-ray source, the LCLS x-ray beam, with high-power lasers consisting of two nanosecond Nd:glass laser beams and one short-pulse Ti:sapphire laser. These lasers produce short-lived states of matter with high pressures, high temperatures or high densities with properties that are important for applications in nuclear fusion research, laboratory astrophysics and the development of intense radiation sources. In the first experiments, we have performed highly accurate x-ray diffraction and x-ray Thomson scattering measurements on shock-compressed matter resolving the transition from compressed solid matter to a co-existence regime and into the warm dense matter state. These complex charged-particle systems are dominated by strong correlations and quantum effects. They exist in planetary interiors and laboratory experiments, e.g., during high-power laser interactions with solids or the compression phase of inertial confinement fusion implosions. Applying record peak brightness x-rays resolves the ionic interactions at atomic (Ångstrom) scale lengths and measure the static structure factor, which is a key quantity for determining equation of state data and important transport coefficients. Simultaneously, spectrally resolved measurements of plasmon features provide dynamic structure factor information that yield temperature and density with unprecedented precision at micron-scale resolution in dynamic compression experiments. These studies have demonstrated our ability to measure fundamental thermodynamic properties that determine the state of matter in the HED physics regime.
X-ray scattering measurements of dissociation-induced metallization of dynamically compressed deuterium
Nature Communications 7, 111892016
Hydrogen, the simplest element in the universe, has a surprisingly complex phase diagram. Because of applications to planetary science, inertial confinement fusion and fundamental physics, its high-pressure properties have been the subject of intense study over the past two decades. While sophisticated static experiments have probed hydrogen’s structure at ever higher pressures, studies examining the higher-temperature regime using dynamic compression have mostly been limited to optical measurement techniques. Here we present spectrally resolved x-ray scattering measurements from plasmons in dynamically compressed deuterium. Combined with Compton scattering, and velocity interferometry to determine shock pressure and mass density, this allows us to extract ionization state as a function of compression. The onset of ionization occurs close in pressure to where density functional theory-molecular dynamics (DFT-MD) simulations show molecular dissociation, suggesting hydrogen transitions from a molecular and insulating fluid to a conducting state without passing through an intermediate atomic phase.
Calculation of Debye-Scherrer diffraction patterns from arbitratily stressed polycrustalline materials
Journal of Applied Physics2016
Calculations of Debye-Scherrer diffraction patterns from polycrystalline materials have typically been done in the limit of small deviatoric stresses. Although these methods are well suited for experiments conducted near hydrostatic conditions, more robust models are required to diagnose the large strainanisotropies present in dynamic compression experiments. A method to predict Debye-Scherrerdiffraction patterns for arbitrary strains has been presented in the Voigt (iso-strain) limit [Higginbotham, J. Appl. Phys. 115, 174906 (2014)]. Here, we present a method to calculate Debye-Scherrer diffractionpatterns from highly stressed polycrystalline samples in the Reuss (iso-stress) limit. This analysis useselastic constants to calculate lattice strains for all initial crystallite orientations, enabling elastic anisotropyand sample texture effects to be modeled directly. The effects of probing geometry, deviatoric stresses, and sample texture are demonstrated and compared to Voigt limit predictions. An example of shock-compressed polycrystalline diamond is presented to illustrate how this model can be applied and demonstrates the importance of including material strength when interpreting diffraction in dynamic compression experiments.