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  1. Polar-direct-drive exploding pushers are used as a high-yield, low-areal-density fusion product source at the National Ignition Facility with applications including diagnostic calibration, nuclear security, backlighting, electron-ion equilibration, and nucleosynthesis-relevant experiments. In this paper, two different paths to improving the performance of this platform are explored: (i) optimizing the laser drive, and (ii) optimizing the target. While the present study is specifically geared towards nucleosynthesis experiments, the results are generally applicable. Example data from T 2/ 3He-gas-filled implosions with trace deuterium are used to show that yield and ion temperature (Tion) from 1.6 mm-outer-diameter thin-glass-shell capsule implosions are improved at amore » set laser energy by switching from a ramped to a square laser pulse shape, and that increased laser energy further improves yield and Tion, although by factors lower than predicted by 1 D simulations. Using data from D2-3He-gas-filled implosions, yield at a set Tion is experimentally verified to increase with capsule size. Uniform D-3He-proton spectra from 3 mm-outer-diameter CH shell implosions demonstrate the utility of this platform for studying charged-particle-producing reactions relevant to stellar nucleosynthesis.« less
  2. Here, this paper describes the development of a platform to study astrophysically relevant nuclear reactions using inertial-confinement fusion implosions on the OMEGA and National Ignition Facility laser facilities, with a particular focus on optimizing the implosions to study charged-particle- producing reactions. Primary requirements on the platform are high yield, for high statistics in the fusion product measurements, combined with low areal density, to allow the charged fusion products to escape. This is optimally achieved with direct-drive exploding pusher implosions using thin-glass-shell capsules. Mitigation strategies to eliminate a possible target sheath potential which would accelerate the emitted ions are discussed. Themore » potential impact of kinetic effects on the implosions is also considered. The platform is initially employed to study the complementary T(t,2n)α, T( 3He,np)α and 3He( 3He,2p)α reactions. Proof-of-principle results from the first experiments demonstrating the ability to accurately measure the energy and yields of charged particles are presented. Lessons learned from these experiments will be used in studies of other reactions. Ultimately, the goals are to explore thermonuclear reaction rates and fundamental nuclear physics in stellarlike plasma environments, and to push this new frontier of nuclear astrophysics into unique regimes not reachable through existing platforms, with thermal ion velocity distributions, plasma screening, and low reactant energies.« less
  3. The Rayleigh-Taylor (RT) instability is a common occurrence in nature, notably in astrophysical systems like supernovae, where it serves to mix the dense layers of the interior of an exploding star with the low-density stellar wind surrounding it, and in inertial confinement fusion experiments, where it mixes cooler materials with the central hot spot in an imploding capsule and stifles the desired nuclear reactions. In both of these examples, the radiative flux generated by strong shocks in the system may play a role in partially stabilizing RT instabilities. We present experiments performed on the National Ignition Facility, designed to isolatemore » and study the role of radiation and heat conduction from a shock front in the stabilization of hydrodynamic instabilities. By varying the laser power delivered to a shock-tube target with an embedded, unstable interface, the radiative fluxes generated at the shock front could be controlled. We observe decreased RT growth when the shock significantly heats the medium around it, in contrast to a system where the shock did not produce significant heating. Both systems are modeled with a modified set of buoyancy-drag equations accounting for ablative stabilization, and the experimental results are consistent with ablative stabilization when the shock is radiative. This result has important implications for our understanding of astrophysical radiative shocks and supernova radiative hydrodynamics [Kuranz et al., Nature Communications 9(1), 1564 (2018)].« less
  4. Hydrodynamic mix of the ablator into the DT fuel layer and hot spot can be a critical performance limitation in inertial confinement fusion implosions. This mix results in increased radiation loss, cooling of the hot spot, and reduced neutron yield. To quantify the level of mix, we have developed a simple model that infers the level of contamination using the ratio of the measured x-ray emission to the neutron yield. The principal source for the performance limitation of the “low-foot” class of implosions appears to have been mix. As a result, lower convergence “high-foot” implosions are found to be lessmore » susceptible to mix, allowing velocities of >380 km/s to be achieved.« less
  5. Here, many astrophysical systems are effectively “collisionless,” that is, the mean free path for collisions between particles is much longer than the size of the system. The absence of particle collisions does not preclude shock formation, however, as shocks can be the result of plasma instabilities that generate and amplify electromagnetic fields. The magnetic fields required for shock formation may either be initially present, for example, in supernova remnants or young galaxies, or they may be self-generated in systems such as gamma-ray bursts (GRBs). In the case of GRB outflows, the Weibel instability is a candidate mechanism for the generationmore » of sufficiently strong magnetic fields to produce shocks. In experiments on the OMEGA Laser, we have demonstrated a quasi-collisionless system that is optimized for the study of the non-linear phase of Weibel instability growth. Using a proton probe to directly image electromagnetic fields, we measure Weibel-generated magnetic fields that grow in opposing, initially unmagnetized plasma flows. The collisionality of the system is determined from coherent Thomson scattering measurements, and the data are compared to similar measurements of a fully collisionless system. The strong, persistent Weibel growth observed here serves as a diagnostic for exploring large-scale magnetic field amplification and the microphysics present in the collisional–collisionless transition.« less
  6. The universe is permeated by magnetic fields, with strengths ranging from a femtogauss in the voids between the filaments of galaxy clusters to several teragauss in black holes and neutron stars. The standard model behind cosmological magnetic fields is the nonlinear amplification of seed fields via turbulent dynamo to the values observed. We have conceived experiments that aim to demonstrate and study the turbulent dynamo mechanism in the laboratory. Here, we describe the design of these experiments through simulation campaigns using FLASH, a highly capable radiation magnetohydrodynamics code that we have developed, and large-scale three-dimensional simulations on the Mira supercomputermore » at the Argonne National Laboratory. The simulation results indicate that the experimental platform may be capable of reaching a turbulent plasma state and determining the dynamo amplification. As a result, we validate and compare our numerical results with a small subset of experimental data using synthetic diagnostics.« less

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