Publications by Gianluca Gregori
Simulation of laser-driven, ablated plasma flows in collisionless shock experiments on OMEGA and the NIF
High Energy Density Physics 9 (2013) 192-197
Experiments investigating the physics of interpenetrating, collisionless, ablated plasma flows have become an important area of research in the high-energy-density field. In order to evaluate the feasibility of designing experiments that will generate a collisionless shock mediated by the Weibel instability on the National Ignition Facility (NIF) laser, computer simulations using the Center for Radiative Shock Hydrodynamics (CRASH) radiation-hydrodynamics model have been carried out. This paper reports assessment of whether the experiment can reach the required scale size while maintaining the low interflow collisionality necessary for the collisionless shock to form. Comparison of simulation results with data from Omega experiments shows the ability of the CRASH code to model these ablated systems. The combined results indicate that experiments on the NIF are capable of reaching the regimes necessary for the formation of a collisionless shock in a laboratory experiment. © 2013.
Comparison between x-ray scattering and velocity-interferometry measurements from shocked liquid deuterium
Physical Review E - Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics 87 (2013)
The equation of state of light elements is essential to understand the structure of Jovian planets and inertial confinement fusion research. The Omega laser was used to drive a planar shock wave in the cryogenically cooled deuterium, creating warm dense matter conditions. X-ray scattering was used to determine the spectrum near the boundary of the collective and noncollective scattering regimes using a narrow band x-ray source in backscattering geometry. Our scattering spectra are thus sensitive to the individual electron motion as well as the collective plasma behavior and provide a measurement of the electron density, temperature, and ionization state. Our data are consistent with velocity-interferometry measurements previously taken on the same shocked deuterium conditions and presented by K. Falk. This work presents a comparison of the two diagnostic systems and offers a detailed discussion of challenges encountered. ©2013 American Physical Society.
Physics of Plasmas 20 (2013)
Spherically expanding radiative shock waves have been observed from inertially confined implosion experiments at the National Ignition Facility. In these experiments, a spherical fusion target, initially 2 mm in diameter, is compressed via the pressure induced from the ablation of the outer target surface. At the peak compression of the capsule, x-ray and nuclear diagnostics indicate the formation of a central core, with a radius and ion temperature of ∼20 μm and ∼ 2 keV, respectively. This central core is surrounded by a cooler compressed shell of deuterium-tritium fuel that has an outer radius of ∼40 μm and a density of >500 g/cm. Using inputs from multiple diagnostics, the peak pressure of the compressed core has been inferred to be of order 100 Gbar for the implosions discussed here. The shock front, initially located at the interface between the high pressure compressed fuel shell and surrounding in-falling low pressure ablator plasma, begins to propagate outwards after peak compression has been reached. Approximately 200 ps after peak compression, a ring of x-ray emission created by the limb-brightening of a spherical shell of shock-heated matter is observed to appear at a radius of ∼100 μm. Hydrodynamic simulations, which model the experiment and include radiation transport, indicate that the sudden appearance of this emission occurs as the post-shock material temperature increases and upstream density decreases, over a scale length of ∼10 μm, as the shock propagates into the lower density (∼1 g/cc), hot (∼250 eV) plasma that exists at the ablation front. The expansion of the shock-heated matter is temporally and spatially resolved and indicates a shock expansion velocity of ∼300 km/s in the laboratory frame. The magnitude and temporal evolution of the luminosity produced from the shock-heated matter was measured at photon energies between 5.9 and 12.4 keV. The observed radial shock expansion, as well as the magnitude and temporal evolution of the luminosity from the shock-heated matter, is consistent with 1-D radiation hydrodynamic simulations. Analytic estimates indicate that the radiation energy flux from the shock-heated matter is of the same order as the in-flowing material energy flux, and suggests that this radiation energy flux modifies the shock front structure. Simulations support these estimates and show the formation of a radiative shock, with a precursor that raises the temperature ahead of the shock front, a sharp μ m-scale thick spike in temperature at the shock front, followed by a post-shock cooling layer. © 2013 AIP Publishing LLC.
High Energy Density Physics 9 (2013) 510-515
X-ray scattering is a powerful diagnostic technique that has been used in a variety of experimental settings to determine the temperature, density, and ionization state of warm dense matter. In order to maximize the intensity of the scattered signal, the x-ray source is often placed in close proximity to the target plasma. Therefore, the interpretation of the experimental data can become complicated by the fact that the detector records photons scattered at different angles from points within the plasma volume. In addition, the target plasma that is scattering the x-rays can have significant temperature and density gradients. To address these issues, we have developed the capability to simulate x-ray scattering for realistic experimental configurations where the effects of plasma non-uniformities and a range of x-ray scattering angles are included. We will discuss the implementation details and show results relevant to previous and ongoing experimental investigations. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.
New Journal of Physics 15 (2013)
This paper reviews the treatment of high-frequency Thomson scattering in the non-relativistic and near-relativistic regimes with the primary purpose of understanding the nature of the frequency redistribution correction to the differential cross-section. This correction is generally represented by a factor involving the ratio ω α /ω β of the scattered (α) to primary (β) frequencies of the radiation. In some formulae given in the literature, the ratio appears squared, in others it does not. In Compton scattering, the frequency change is generally understood to be due to the recoil of the particle as a result of energy and momentum conservation in the photon-electron system. In this case, the Klein-Nishina formula gives the redistribution factor as . In the case of scattering by a many-particle system, however, the frequency and momentum changes are no longer directly interdependent but depend also upon the properties of the medium, which are encoded in the dynamic structure factor. We show that the redistribution factor explicit in the quantum cross-section (that seen by a photon) is ω α /ω β, which is not squared. Formulae for the many-body cross-section given in the literature, in which the factor is squared, can often be attributed to a different (classical) definition of the cross-section, though not all authors are explicit about which definition they are using. What is shown not to be true is that the structure factor simply gives the ratio of the many-electron to one-electron differential cross-sections, as is sometimes supposed. Mixing up the cross-section definitions can lead to errors when describing x-ray scattering. We illustrate the nature of the discrepancy by deriving the energy-integrated angular distributions, with first-order relativistic corrections, for classical and quantum scattering measurements, as well as the radiative opacity for photon diffusion in a Thomson-scattering medium, which is generally considered to be governed by quantum processes. © IOP Publishing and Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft.
Diffusive shock acceleration at laser-driven shocks: Studying cosmic-ray accelerators in the laboratory
New Journal of Physics 15 (2013)
The non-thermal particle spectra responsible for the emission from many astrophysical systems are thought to originate from shocks via a first order Fermi process otherwise known as diffusive shock acceleration. The same mechanism is also widely believed to be responsible for the production of high energy cosmic rays. With the growing interest in collisionless shock physics in laser produced plasmas, the possibility of reproducing and detecting shock acceleration in controlled laboratory experiments should be considered. The various experimental constraints that must be satisfied are reviewed. It is demonstrated that several currently operating laser facilities may fulfil the necessary criteria to confirm the occurrence of diffusive shock acceleration of electrons at laser produced shocks. Successful reproduction of Fermi acceleration in the laboratory could open a range of possibilities, providing insight into the complex plasma processes that occur near astrophysical sources of cosmic rays. © IOP Publishing and Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft.
High Energy Density Physics 9 (2013) 172-177
The Flash Center is engaged in a collaboration to simulate laser driven experiments aimed at understanding the generation and amplification of cosmological magnetic fields using the FLASH code. In these experiments a laser illuminates a solid plastic or graphite target launching an asymmetric blast wave into a chamber which contains either Helium or Argon at millibar pressures. Induction coils placed several centimeters away from the target detect large scale magnetic fields on the order of tens to hundreds of Gauss. The time dependence of the magnetic field is consistent with generation via the Biermann battery mechanism near the blast wave. Attempts to perform simulations of these experiments using the FLASH code have uncovered previously unreported numerical difficulties in modeling the Biermann battery mechanism near shock waves which can lead to the production of large non-physical magnetic fields. We report on these difficulties and offer a potential solution. © 2012 Elsevier B.V.
FLASH hydrodynamic simulations of experiments to explore the generation of cosmological magnetic fields
High Energy Density Physics 9 (2013) 75-81
We report the results of FLASH hydrodynamic simulations of the experiments conducted by the University of Oxford High Energy Density Laboratory Astrophysics group and its collaborators at the Laboratoire pour l'Utilisation de Lasers Intenses (LULI). In these experiments, a long-pulse laser illuminates a target in a chamber filled with Argon gas, producing shock waves that generate magnetic fields via the Biermann battery mechanism. The simulations show that the result of the laser illuminating the target is a series of complex hydrodynamic phenomena. © 2012 Elsevier B.V.
Visualizing electromagnetic fields in laser-produced counter-streaming plasma experiments for collisionless shock laboratory astrophysics
Physics of Plasmas 20 (2013)
Collisionless shocks are often observed in fast-moving astrophysical plasmas, formed by non-classical viscosity that is believed to originate from collective electromagnetic fields driven by kinetic plasma instabilities. However, the development of small-scale plasma processes into large-scale structures, such as a collisionless shock, is not well understood. It is also unknown to what extent collisionless shocks contain macroscopic fields with a long coherence length. For these reasons, it is valuable to explore collisionless shock formation, including the growth and self-organization of fields, in laboratory plasmas. The experimental results presented here show at a glance with proton imaging how macroscopic fields can emerge from a system of supersonic counter-streaming plasmas produced at the OMEGA EP laser. Interpretation of these results, plans for additional measurements, and the difficulty of achieving truly collisionless conditions are discussed. Future experiments at the National Ignition Facility are expected to create fully formed collisionless shocks in plasmas with no pre-imposed magnetic field. © 2013 AIP Publishing LLC.
High Energy Density Physics 9 (2013) 573-577
We have carried out X-ray scattering experiments on iron foil samples that have been compressed and heated using laser-driven shocks created with the VULCAN laser system at the Rutherford-Appleton Laboratory. This is the highest Z element studied in such experiments so far and the first time scattering from warm dense iron has been reported. Because of the importance of iron in telluric planets, the work is relevant to studies of warm dense matter in planetary interiors. We report scattering results as well as shock breakout results that, in conjunction with hydrodynamic simulations, suggest the target has been compressed to a molten state at several 100GPa pressure. Initial comparison with modelling suggests more work is needed to understand the structure factor of warm dense iron. © 2013.
Orbital-free density-functional theory simulations of the dynamic structure factor of warm dense aluminum
Physical Review Letters 111 (2013)
Here, we report orbital-free density-functional theory (OF DFT) molecular dynamics simulations of the dynamic ion structure factor of warm solid density aluminum at T=0.5 eV and T=5 eV. We validate the OF DFT method in the warm dense matter regime through comparison of the static and thermodynamic properties with the more complete Kohn-Sham DFT. This extension of OF DFT to dynamic properties indicates that previously used models based on classical molecular dynamics may be inadequate to capture fully the low frequency dynamics of the response function. © 2013 American Physical Society.
Sci Rep 2 (2012) 889-
Creating non-equilibrium states of matter with highly unequal electron and lattice temperatures (T(ele)≠T(ion)) allows unsurpassed insight into the dynamic coupling between electrons and ions through time-resolved energy relaxation measurements. Recent studies on low-temperature laser-heated graphite suggest a complex energy exchange when compared to other materials. To avoid problems related to surface preparation, crystal quality and poor understanding of the energy deposition and transport mechanisms, we apply a different energy deposition mechanism, via laser-accelerated protons, to isochorically and non-radiatively heat macroscopic graphite samples up to temperatures close to the melting threshold. Using time-resolved x ray diffraction, we show clear evidence of a very small electron-ion energy transfer, yielding approximately three times longer relaxation times than previously reported. This is indicative of the existence of an energy transfer bottleneck in non-equilibrium warm dense matter.
XUV spectroscopic characterization of warm dense aluminum plasmas generated by the free-electron-laser FLASH
Laser and Particle Beams 30 (2012) 45-56
We report on experiments aimed at the generation and characterization of solid density plasmas at the free-electron laser FLASH in Hamburg. Aluminum samples were irradiated with XUV pulses at 13.5 nm wavelength (92 eV photon energy). The pulses with duration of a few tens of femtoseconds and pulse energy up to 100 μJ are focused to intensities ranging between 10 and 10 W/cm . We investigate the absorption and temporal evolution of the sample under irradiation by use of XUV and optical spectroscopy. We discuss the origin of saturable absorption, radiative decay, bremsstrahlung and atomic and ionic line emission. Our experimental results are in good agreement with simulations. © 2012 Cambridge University Press.
Astrophysical Journal 749 (2012)
The subject of this paper is the design of practical laser experiments that can produce collisionless shocks mediated by the Weibel instability. Such shocks may be important in a wide range of astrophysical systems. Three issues are considered. The first issue is the implications of the fact that such experiments will produce expanding flows that are approximately homologous. As a result, both the velocity and the density of the interpenetrating plasma streams will be time dependent. The second issue is the implications of the linear theory of the Weibel instability. For the experiments, the instability is in a regime where standard simplifications do not apply. It appears feasible but non-trivial to obtain adequate growth. The third issue is collisionality. The need to keep resistive magnetic-field dissipation small enough implies that the plasmas should not be allowed to cool substantially. © 2012. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.
Review of Scientific Instruments 83 (2012)
We investigated various diagnostic techniques to measure the 511 keV annihilation radiations. These include step-wedge filters, transmission crystal spectroscopy, single-hit CCD detectors, and streaked scintillating detection. While none of the diagnostics recorded conclusive results, the step-wedge filter that is sensitive to the energy range between 100 keV and 700 keV shows a signal around 500 keV that is clearly departing from a pure Bremsstrahlung spectrum and that we ascribe to annihilation radiation. © 2012 American Institute of Physics.
CONTRIBUTIONS TO PLASMA PHYSICS 52 (2012) 58-61
Physical Review Letters 108 (2012)
X-ray Thomson scattering has enabled us to measure the temperature of a shocked layer, produced in the laboratory, that is relevant to shocks emerging from supernovas. High energy lasers are used to create a shock in argon gas which is probed by x-ray scattering. The scattered, inelastic Compton feature allows inference of the electron temperature. It is measured to be 34 eV in the radiative precursor and ∼60eV near the shock. Comparison of energy fluxes implied by the data demonstrates that the shock wave is strongly radiative. © 2012 American Physical Society.
Plasma Physics and Controlled Fusion 54 (2012)
We report our recent efforts on the experimental investigations related to the origins of cosmic rays. The origins of cosmic rays are long standing open issues in astrophysics. The galactic and extragalactic cosmic rays are considered to be accelerated in non-relativistic and relativistic collisionless shocks in the universe, respectively. However, the acceleration and transport processes of the cosmic rays are not well understood, and how the collisionless shocks are created is still under investigation. Recent high-power and high-intensity laser technologies allow us to simulate astrophysical phenomena in laboratories. We present our experimental results of collisionless shock formations in laser-produced plasmas. © 2012 IOP Publishing Ltd.
Nature 481 (2012) 480-483
The standard model for the origin of galactic magnetic fields is through the amplification of seed fields via dynamo or turbulent processes to the level consistent with present observations. Although other mechanisms may also operate, currents from misaligned pressure and temperature gradients (the Biermann battery process) inevitably accompany the formation of galaxies in the absence of a primordial field. Driven by geometrical asymmetries in shocks associated with the collapse of protogalactic structures, the Biermann battery is believed to generate tiny seed fields to a level of about 10(-21) gauss (refs 7, 8). With the advent of high-power laser systems in the past two decades, a new area of research has opened in which, using simple scaling relations, astrophysical environments can effectively be reproduced in the laboratory. Here we report the results of an experiment that produced seed magnetic fields by the Biermann battery effect. We show that these results can be scaled to the intergalactic medium, where turbulence, acting on timescales of around 700 million years, can amplify the seed fields sufficiently to affect galaxy evolution.
Nature Physics 8 (2012) 809-812
Self-organization occurs in plasmas when energy progressively transfers from smaller to larger scales in an inverse cascade. Global structures that emerge from turbulent plasmas can be found in the laboratory and in astrophysical settings; for example, the cosmic magnetic field, collisionless shocks in supernova remnants and the internal structures of newly formed stars known as Herbig-Haro objects. Here we show that large, stable electromagnetic field structures can also arise within counter-streaming supersonic plasmas in the laboratory. These surprising structures, formed by a yet unexplained mechanism, are predominantly oriented transverse to the primary flow direction, extend for much larger distances than the intrinsic plasma spatial scales and persist for much longer than the plasma kinetic timescales. Our results challenge existing models of counter-streaming plasmas and can be used to better understand large-scale and long-time plasma self-organization. © 2012 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved.