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Title: Advanced Concept Exploration for Fast Ignition Science Program, Final Report

The Fast Ignition (FI) Concept for Inertial Confinement Fusion (ICF) has the potential to provide a significant advance in the technical attractiveness of Inertial Fusion Energy reactors. FI differs from conventional “central hot spot” (CHS) target ignition by decoupling compression from heating: using a laser (or heavy ion beam or Z pinch) drive pulse (10’s of nanoseconds) to create a dense fuel and a second, much shorter (~10 picoseconds) high intensity pulse to ignite a small volume within the dense fuel. The physics of fast ignition process was the focus of our Advanced Concept Exploration (ACE) program. Ignition depends critically on two major issues involving Relativistic High Energy Density (RHED) physics: The laser-induced creation of fast electrons and their propagation in high-density plasmas. Our program has developed new experimental platforms, diagnostic packages, computer modeling analyses, and taken advantage of the increasing energy available at laser facilities to advance understanding of the fundamental physics underlying these issues. Our program had three thrust areas: • Understand the production and characteristics of fast electrons resulting from FI relevant laser-plasma interactions and their dependence on laser prepulse and laser pulse length. • Investigate the subsequent fast electron transport in solid and through hot (FI-relevant)more » plasmas. • Conduct and understand integrated core-heating experiments by comparison to simulations. Over the whole period of this project (three years for this contract), we have greatly advanced our fundamental understanding of the underlying properties in all three areas: • Comprehensive studies on fast electron source characteristics have shown that they are controlled by the laser intensity distribution and the topology and plasma density gradient. Laser pre-pulse induced pre-plasma in front of a solid surface results in increased stand-off distances from the electron origin to the high density target as well as large and erratic spread of the electron beam with increasing short pulse duration. We have demonstrated, using newly available higher contrast lasers, an improved energy coupling, painting a promising picture for FI feasibility. • Our detailed experiments and analyses of fast electron transport dependence on target material have shown that it is feasible to collimate fast electron beam by self-generated resistive magnetic fields in engineered targets with a rather simple geometry. Stable and collimated electron beam with spot size as small as 50-μm after >100-μm propagation distance (an angular divergence angle of 20°!) in solid density plasma targets has been demonstrated with FI-relevant (10-ps, >1-kJ) laser pulses Such collimated beam would meet the required heating beam size for FI. • Our new experimental platforms developed for the OMEGA laser (i.e., i) high resolution 8 keV backlighter platform for cone-in-shell implosion and ii) the 8 keV imaging with Cu-doped shell targets for detailed transport characterization) have enabled us to experimentally confirm fuel assembly from cone-in-shell implosion with record-high areal density. We have also made the first direct measurement of fast electron transport and spatial energy deposition in integrated FI experiments enabling the first experiment-based benchmarking of integrated simulation codes. Executing this program required a large team. It was managed as a collaboration between General Atomics (GA), Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), and the Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE). GA fulfills its responsibilities jointly with the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), The Ohio State University (OSU) and the University of Nevada at Reno (UNR). The division of responsibility was as follows: (1) LLE had primary leadership for channeling studies and the integrated energy transfer, (2) LLNL led the development of measurement methods, analysis, and deployment of diagnostics, and (3) GA together with UCSD, OSU and UNR studied the detailed energy-transfer physics. The experimental program was carried out using the Titan laser at the Jupiter Laser Facility at LLNL, the OMEGA and OMEGA EP lasers at LLE and the Texas Petawatt laser at the University of Texas, Austin. Modeling has been pursued on large computing facilities at LLNL, OSU, and UCSD using codes developed (by us and others) within the HEDLP program, commercial codes, and by leveraging existing simulations codes developed by the National Nuclear Security Administration ICF program. One important aspect of this program was the involvement and training of young scientists including postdoctoral fellows and graduate students. This project generated an impressive forty articles in high quality journals including nine (two under review) in Physical Review Letters during the three years of this grant and five graduate students completed their doctoral dissertations.« less
 [1] ;  [2] ;  [3] ;  [4] ;  [5] ;  [6] ;  [4] ;  [1]
  1. General Atomics
  2. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
  3. Laboratory for Laser Energetics
  4. The Ohio State University
  5. University of California, San Diego
  6. University of Nevada, Reno
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
General Atomics Report GA-A27652
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Inertial Fusion Technologies, General Atomics
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE; USDOE SC Office of Fusion Energy Sciences (SC-24)
Contributing Orgs:
General Atomics, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Laboratory for Laser Energetics, The Ohio State University, University of California, San Diego, University of Nevada, Reno
Country of Publication:
United States
70 PLASMA PHYSICS AND FUSION TECHNOLOGY Fast Ignition, Inertial Fusion, High Energy Density Physics, Particle-In-Cell Simulations, Radiation Hydrodynamics Modeling