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Radiative properties of Z-pinch and laser produced plasmas from mid-atomic-number materials
AuthorOuart, Nicholas D.
AdvisorSafronova, Alla S.
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The investigation of Z-pinches on university-scale pulsed power generators allows for the study of plasmas with a broad range of temperatures, densities, and sizes in cost effective experiments. In particular, X-pinches produce the hottest and densest plasma and are very suitable for x-ray radiation studies. The planar wire array has shown to be a powerful radiation source on the 1 MA Zebra generator at UNR. The radiative and implosion dynamics from such loads with mid-atomic-number materials were not studied previously in detail and are a topic of this dissertation. Specifically, the radiative and implosion characteristics of Z-pinch and X-pinch plasmas with mid-atomic-number materials (iron, nickel, copper, and zinc) will be discussed. The theoretical tool used to accomplish this is non-LTE kinetic modeling. This tool is not limited to Z-pinches, but can be applied to any plasma radiation source like laser produced plasmas which will be demonstrated. In addition, since the radiative characteristics of wire arrays are connected with the implosion characteristics, another theoretical tool, the Wire Ablation Dynamics Model was used in this dissertation to understand the ablation and implosion dynamics of wire arrays. The experiments were analyzed from two university-scale pulsed power machines: the 1 MA Zebra and COBRA generators. The research completed in this dissertation emphasizes the unique capabilities and usefulness of spectroscopy, particularly time-gated x-ray spectroscopy. For example, modeling of time-gated L-shell spectra captured from the precursor column of low-wire-number copper cylindrical wire arrays reveals electron temperatures ~400 eV, which is significantly higher than any previous precursor measurements. From the analysis of experiments on COBRA, total energy was higher for the implosion of a compact cylindrical wire array made with alternating brass and aluminum wires than a uniform wire array made with just brass or aluminum. Comparison of L-shell radiation from mid-atomic-number wires placed in the inner or outer array from nested wire array implosions on COBRA shows that the material radiates more when placed on the outer array. Using different materials on the outer and inner arrays provides a unique opportunity to study the implosion dynamics of nested wire arrays, especially when using time-gated spectroscopy. Brass planar wire arrays represent a unique opportunity to study the performance of two L-shell radiators from mid-atomic-number materials (copper and zinc) at the same time in experiments on Zebra. The ablation and implosion dynamics of the single- and double-planar wire arrays was investigated and completed. Non-LTE kinetic modeling was used to describe the radiation from simultaneous measurements of K- and L-shell radiation from the interaction of a femtosecond laser system with an iron target. The K- and L-shell radiation originates from two distinct plasma regions. The L-shell radiation was emitted from a region of plasma created by the prepulse and modeling showed moderate electron temperatures and electron densities. The cold iron Kα line manifested from a region of plasma that was heated by hot electrons interacting with the solid dense iron target. K-shell modeling showed electron temperatures of tens of eV and less than 1% hot electrons. To study the time history of cold Kα lines for mid-atomic-number materials, experiments with planar wire arrays were performed on Zebra. Continuation of this study was accomplished using X-pinches to allow for the simultaneous measurements in time of hotter ionic and cold K-shell lines.