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Title: Final Project Report "Advanced Concept Exploration For Fast Ignition Science Program"

The Fast Ignition (FI) Concept for Inertial Confinement Fusion has the potential to provide a significant advance in the technical attractiveness of Inertial Fusion Energy (IFE) reactors. FI differs from conventional “central hot spot” (CHS) target ignition by decoupling compression from heating: using the laser (or heavy ion beam or Z pinch) drive pulse (10’s of ns) to create a dense fuel and a second, much shorter (~10 ps) high intensity pulse to ignite a small region of it. There are two major physics issues concerning this concept; controlling the laser-induced generation of large electron currents and their propagation through high density plasmas. This project has addressed these two significant scientific issues in Relativistic High Energy Density (RHED) physics. Learning to control relativistic laser matter interaction (and the limits and potential thereof) will enable a wide range of applications. While these physics issues are of specific interest to inertial fusion energy science, they are also important for a wide range of other HED phenomena, including high energy ion beam generation, isochoric heating of materials, and the development of high brightness x-ray sources. Generating, controlling, and understanding the extreme conditions needed to advance this science has proved to be challenging: Ourmore » studies have pushed the boundaries of physics understanding and are at the very limits of experimental, diagnostic, and simulation capabilities in high energy density laboratory physics (HEDLP). Our research strategy has been based on pursuing the fundamental physics underlying the Fast Ignition (FI) concept. We have performed comprehensive study of electron generation and transport in fast-ignition targets with experiments, theory, and numerical modeling. A major issue is that the electrons produced in these experiments cannot be measured directly—only effects due to their transport. We focused mainly on x-ray continuum photons from bremsstrahlung and x-ray line radiation from K-shell fluorescence. Integrated experiments, which combine target compression with short-pulse laser heating, yield additional information on target heating efficiency. This indirect way of studying the underlying behavior of the electrons must be validated with computational modeling to understand the physics and improve the design. This program execution required a large, well-organized team and it was managed by a joint Collaboration between General Atomics (GA), Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), and the Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE). The Collaboration was formed 8 years ago to understand the physics issues of the Fast Ignition concept, building on the strengths of each partner. 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). Since RHED physics is pursued vigorously in many countries, international researchers have been an important part of our efforts to make progress. 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 (TPW) at UT 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 supercomputer codes developed by the NNSA ICF program. This Consortium brought together all the components—resources, facilities, and personnel—necessary to accomplish its aggressive goals. The ACE Program has been strongly collaborative, taking advantage of the expertise of the participating institutions to provide a research effort that is far greater than the sum of its parts. The results of this work have firmly strengthened the scientific foundation from which the viability of FI and other applications can be evaluated. Program execution has also led to improved diagnostics for probing dense, hot plasmas, detailed understanding of high-current, relativistic electron energy generation and transport across boundaries and into dense plasmas, and greatly enhanced predictive modeling capabilities. One important aspect of this program was the involvement and training of young scientists including postdoctoral fellows and graduate students. During the entire 8 years of FI and ACE project period since 2005, more than fifteen graduate students completed their doctoral dissertations including three from OSU and two from UCSD in last three years. This project generated an impressive forty articles in high quality journals including nine (including two under review) in Physical Review Letters during the last funding period since 2011.« less
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Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
University of Rochester, Rochester, NY
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Country of Publication:
United States