The Experimental Study of Characterized Noble Gas Puffs Irradiated by Ultra-Short Laser Pulses Compared with X-Pinches as an X-Ray Source
AuthorSchultz, Kimberly Ann
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The goal of this dissertation is to study the basic physics and X-ray emission (1-10 keV) of two X-ray sources: X-pinch plasmas and a clustered gas-puff irradiated by an ultrashort laser pulse. X-pinches and other typical X-ray sources using solid targets create hot debris that can damage sensitive equipment. Therefore, to perform sensitive backlighting or X-ray effects testing, debris-free sources of radiation must be investigated. In this work, the author presents a broad study of clustered noble gas puffs including characterization measurements and laser heating experiments using several gas nozzles and multiple gases. Ultimately, the goal is to compare the laser-irradiated gas-puff and X-pinch plasmas as X-ray sources.Characterization of the gas puffs is performed at the Radiation Physics Laboratory at the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) Physics Department using optical interferometry and Rayleigh scattering to determine density and cluster radius. By changing the gas-puff variables control of both the density and cluster size of the gas jets is obtained. Two laser systems provide the high intensities desired for the laser-irradiated gas puff experiments: the UNR Leopard Laser (1-2x1019 W/cm2) and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s Titan Laser (7x1019 W/cm2). X-ray emission is studied as a function of laser pulse parameters, gas target type, gas puff density, and the gas-delay timing between puff initiation and laser interaction with the puff. The tested gases are Ar, Kr, Xe, and four mixtures of the noble gases. Time-resolved X-ray measurements are captured with Silicon diodes and photoconducting diamond detectors. Electron beam detectors include Faraday cups and a high-energy (>1 MeV) electron spectrometer. Modeling of spectra from X-ray crystal spectrometers provides plasma density and temperature measurement and a molecular dynamics (MD) code describes cluster interactions with the laser pulse. The conversion of laser energy into X rays is also measured. Laser beam transmission through and absorption by the gas puff reveal the complexity of using laser-irradiated gas puffs as X-ray sources. A strong anisotropy of X-ray and electron emissions were observed at both laser facilities.X-pinch plasmas can provide intense hard X rays and strong electron beams originating from small sources with many applications. Recent research has been conducted into four-wire X-pinches at the UNR Zebra machine, a 1-MA pulsed power generator. Two different wire materials are considered in this study, Ag and Mo. We observe a relatively linear correlation between load mass and implosion time for Mo X-pinches; in fact, this relationship also extends to include Ag. Interestingly, X-ray burst features drastically change in shape when the load mass is varied. Advantages of laser-irradiated gas puffs include a lack of damaging debris, high repetition rate, and ease of control. Its disadvantages include its inefficiency at converting electrical energy to X-rays, which is mostly limited by laser efficiency, and relatively low total energy yield. X-pinches, on the other hand, produced kJ of energy in a broad spectral region. However, they create a large amount of debris, have a low repetition rate, and, at 1-MA, have hard-to-predict implosion times.