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Title: Ion Fast Ignition-Establishing a Scientific Basis for Inertial Fusion Energy --- 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 compressed fuel is opaque to laser light. The ignition laser energy must be converted to a jet of energetic charged particles to deposit energy in the dense fuel. The original concept called for a spray of laser-generated hot electrons to deliver the energy; lack of ability to focus the electrons put great weight on minimizing the electron path. An alternative concept, proton-ignited FI, used those electrons as intermediaries to create a jet of protons that could be focused to the ignition spot from a more convenient distance. Our program focused on the generation and directing of the proton jet, and its transport toward the fuel, none of which were well understood at the onset of our program. Wemore » have developed new experimental platforms, diagnostic packages, computer modeling analyses, and taken advantage of the increasing energy available at laser facilities to create a self-consistent understanding of the fundamental physics underlying these issues. Our strategy was to examine the new physics emerging as we added the complexity necessary to use proton beams in an inertial fusion energy (IFE) application. From the starting point of a proton beam accelerated from a flat, isolated foil, we 1) curved it to focus the beam, 2) attached the foil to a superstructure, 3) added a side sheath to protect it from the surrounding plasma, and finally 4) studied the proton beam behavior as it passed through a protective end cap into plasma. We built up, as we proceeded, a self-consistent picture of the quasi-neutral plasma jet that is the proton beam that, for the first time, included the role of the hot electrons in shaping the jet. Controlling them?through design of the accelerating surface and its connection to the surrounding superstructure?is critical; their uniform spread across the proton accelerating area is vital, but their presence in the jet opposes focus; their electron flow away from the acceleration area reduces conversion efficiency but can also increase focusing ability. The understanding emerging from our work and the improved simulation tools we have developed allow designing structures that optimize proton beams for focused heating. Our findings include: ? The achievable focus of proton beams is limited by the thermal pressure gradient in the laser-generated hot electrons that drive the process. This bending can be suppressed using a controlled flow of hot electrons along the surrounding cone wall, which induces a local transverse focusing sheath electric field. The resultant (vacuum-focused) spot can meet IFE requirements. ? Confinement of laser-generated electrons to the proton accelerating area can be achieved by supporting targets on thin struts. That increases laser-to-proton conversion energy by ~50%. As noted above, confinement should not be total; necessary hot-electron leakage into the surrounding superstructure for proton focusing can be controlled by with the strut width/number. ? Proton jets are further modified as they enter the fuel through the superstructure?s end cap. They can generate currents during that transit that further focus the proton beams. We developed a new ion stopping module for LSP code that properly accounted for changes in stopping power with ionization (e.g. temperature), and will be using it in future studies. The improved understanding, new experimental platforms, and the self-consistent modeling capability allow researchers a new ability to investigate the interaction of large ion currents with warm dense matter. That is of direct importance to the creation and investigation of all aspects of warm dense matter as well as to proton-ignited FI.« less
 [1] ;  [2] ;  [1] ;  [3] ;  [4]
  1. General Atomics
  2. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
  3. University of California, San Diego
  4. The Ohio State University
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
General Atomics, San Diego, California
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
Country of Publication:
United States
70 PLASMA PHYSICS AND FUSION TECHNOLOGY Fast Ignition, Inertial Fusion, High Energy Density Physics, Particle-In-Cell Simulations, Warm Dense Matter, Proton beam