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.
Nanosecond white-light Laue diffraction measurements of dislocation microstructure in shock-compressed single-crystal copper.
Nat Commun 3 (2012) 1224-
Under uniaxial high-stress shock compression it is believed that crystalline materials undergo complex, rapid, micro-structural changes to relieve the large applied shear stresses. Diagnosing the underlying mechanisms involved remains a significant challenge in the field of shock physics, and is critical for furthering our understanding of the fundamental lattice-level physics, and for the validation of multi-scale models of shock compression. Here we employ white-light X-ray Laue diffraction on a nanosecond timescale to make the first in situ observations of the stress relaxation mechanism in a laser-shocked crystal. The measurements were made on single-crystal copper, shocked along the  axis to peak stresses of order 50 GPa. The results demonstrate the presence of stress-dependent lattice rotations along specific crystallographic directions. The orientation of the rotations suggests that there is double slip on conjugate systems. In this model, the rotation magnitudes are consistent with defect densities of order 10(12) cm(-2).
Journal of Instrumentation 7 (2012)
Focal aberrations of large-aperture highly oriented pyrolytic graphite (HOPG) crystals in von-Hàmos geometry are investigated by experimental and computational methods. A mosaic HOPG crystal film of 100 μm thickness diffracts 8 keV x-rays. This thickness is smaller than the absorption depth of the symmetric 004-reflection, which amounts to 257 μm. Cylindrically bent crystals with 110mm radius of curvature and up to 100 mm collection width produce a X-shaped halo around the focus. This feature vanishes when the collection aperture is reduced, but axial spectral profiles show that the resolution is not affected. X-ray topography reveals significant inhomogeneous crystallite domains of 2±1mm diameter along the entire crystal. Rocking curves shift by about ±20arcmin between domains, while their full width at half-maximum varies between 30 and 50 arcmin. These inhomogeneities are not imprinted at the focal spot, since the monochromatically reflecting area of the crystal is large compared to inhomogeneities. Ray-tracing calculations using a Monte-Carlo-based algorithm developed for mosaic crystals reproduce the X-shaped halo in the focal plane, stemming from the mosaic defocussing in the non-dispersive direction in combination with large apertures. The best achievable resolution is found by analyzing a diversity of rocking curve widths, source sizes and crystal thicknesses for 8 keV x-rays to be ΔE/E ∼ 10-4. Finally a general analytic expression for the shape of the aberration is derived. © 2012 IOP Publishing Ltd and Sissa Medialab srl.
Journal of Instrumentation 7 (2012)
We have developed an easy-to-use and reliable timing tool to determine the arrival time of an optical laser and a free electron laser (FEL) pulses within the jitter limitation. This timing tool can be used from XUV to X-rays and exploits high FELs intensities. It uses a shadowgraph technique where we optically (at 800 nm) image a plasma created by an intense XUV or X-ray FEL pulse on a transparent sample (glass slide) directly placed at the pump - probe sample position. It is based on the physical principle that the optical properties of the material are drastically changed when its free electron density reaches the critical density. At this point the excited glass sample becomes opaque to the optical laser pulse. The ultra-short and intense XUV or X-ray FEL pulse ensures that a critical electron density can be reached via photoionization and subsequent collisional ionization within the XUV or X-ray FEL pulse duration or even faster. This technique allows to determine the relative arrival time between the optical laser and the FEL pulses in only few single shots with an accuracy mainly limited by the optical laser pulse duration and the jitter between the FEL and the optical laser. Considering the major interest in pump-probe experiments at FEL facilities in general, such a femtosecond resolution timing tool is of utmost importance. © 2012 IOP Publishing Ltd and Sissa Medialab srl.
Nature 482 (2012) 59-62
Physical Review Letters 109 (2012)
The x-ray intensities made available by x-ray free electron lasers (FEL) open up new x-ray matter interaction channels not accessible with previous sources. We report here on the resonant generation of Kα emission, that is to say the production of copious Kα radiation by tuning the x-ray FEL pulse to photon energies below that of the K edge of a solid aluminum sample. The sequential absorption of multiple photons in the same atom during the 80 fs pulse, with photons creating L-shell holes and then one resonantly exciting a K-shell electron into one of these holes, opens up a channel for the Kα production, as well as the absorption of further photons. We demonstrate rich spectra of such channels, and investigate the emission produced by tuning the FEL energy to the K-L transitions of those highly charged ions that have transition energies below the K edge of the cold material. The spectra are sensitive to x-ray intensity dependent opacity effects, with ions containing L-shell holes readily reabsorbing the Kα radiation. © 2012 American Physical Society.
Testing quantum mechanics in non-Minkowski space-time with high power lasers and 4(th) generation light sources.
Scientific reports 2 (2012) 491-
A common misperception of quantum gravity is that it requires accessing energies up to the Planck scale of 10¹⁹ GeV, which is unattainable from any conceivable particle collider. Thanks to the development of ultra-high intensity optical lasers, very large accelerations can be now the reached at their focal spot, thus mimicking, by virtue of the equivalence principle, a non Minkowski space-time. Here we derive a semiclassical extension of quantum mechanics that applies to different metrics, but under the assumption of weak gravity. We use our results to show that Thomson scattering of photons by uniformly accelerated electrons predicts an observable effect depending upon acceleration and local metric. In the laboratory frame, a broadening of the Thomson scattered x ray light from a fourth generation light source can be used to detect the modification of the metric associated to electrons accelerated in the field of a high power optical laser.
Physical Review Letters 109 (2012)
We have used the Linac Coherent Light Source to generate solid-density aluminum plasmas at temperatures of up to 180 eV. By varying the photon energy of the x rays that both create and probe the plasma, and observing the K-α fluorescence, we can directly measure the position of the K edge of the highly charged ions within the system. The results are found to disagree with the predictions of the extensively used Stewart-Pyatt model, but are consistent with the earlier model of Ecker and Kröll, which predicts significantly greater depression of the ionization potential. © 2012 American Physical Society.
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.
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.
High Energy Density Physics 8 (2012) 46-49
We present measurements of the changes in the microscopic structure of graphite in a laser-driven shock experiment with X-ray scattering. Laser radiation with intensities of ∼2 × 10 13 W/cm 2 compressed the carbon samples by a factor of two reaching pressures of ∼90 GPa. Due to the change of the crystalline structure the scattered signals of the probe radiation were modified significantly in intensity and spectral composition compared to the scattering on cold samples. It is shown that the elastic scattering on tightly bound electrons increases strongly due to the phase transition whereas the inelastic scattering on weakly bound electrons remains nearly unchanged for the chosen geometry. © 2011 Elsevier B.V.
High Energy Density Physics 8 (2012) 322-328
We report the results of benchmark FLASH magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) simulations of experiments conducted by the University of Oxford High Energy Density Laboratory Astrophysics group and its collaborators at the Laboratoire pour l'Utilisation des 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. We first outline the implementation of 2D cylindrical geometry in the unsplit MHD solver in FLASH and present results of verification tests. We then describe the results of benchmark 2D cylindrical MHD simulations of the LULI experiments using FLASH that explore the impact of external fields along with the possibility of magnetic field amplification by turbulence that is associated with the shock waves and that is induced by a grid placed in the gas-filled chamber. © 2012 Elsevier B.V.
CONTRIBUTIONS TO PLASMA PHYSICS 52 (2012) 58-61
Revealing multiphoton resonant ionization in solid density plasmas with an x-ray free electron laser
2012 Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics, CLEO 2012 (2012)
Interaction of intense x-ray and solid density Al plasma is studied via K-shell emission spectroscopy. A high fluence, high-intensity x-ray pulse from an x-ray free-electron laser unveils multiphoton ionization pathway and drives hidden resonances. © 2012 OSA.
AIP Conference Proceedings 1426 (2012) 975-978
The lattice level strain measured using in situ x-ray diffraction during shock compression of rolled iron foils is used along with the pressure dependent elastic constants to estimate the dynamic strength of 1±1 GPa at 15 GPa. We examine these results in the context of the constant stress (Voigt) and constant strain (Ruess) limit of grain interaction, discussing the implications at the lattice level. © 2012 American Institute of Physics.
Nature Physics (2012)
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.
High Energy Density Physics 8 (2012) 38-45
Collisions of high Mach number flows occur frequently in astrophysics, and the resulting shock waves are responsible for the properties of many astrophysical phenomena, such as supernova remnants, Gamma Ray Bursts and jets from Active Galactic Nuclei. Because of the low density of astrophysical plasmas, the mean free path due to Coulomb collisions is typically very large. Therefore, most shock waves in astrophysics are "collisionless", since they form due to plasma instabilities and self-generated magnetic fields. Laboratory experiments at the laser facilities can achieve the conditions necessary for the formation of collisionless shocks, and will provide a unique avenue for studying the nonlinear physics of collisionless shock waves. We are performing a series of experiments at the Omega and Omega-EP lasers, in Rochester, NY, with the goal of generating collisionless shock conditions by the collision of two high-speed plasma flows resulting from laser ablation of solid targets using ∼10 16 W/cm 2 laser irradiation. The experiments will aim to answer several questions of relevance to collisionless shock physics: the importance of the electromagnetic filamentation (Weibel) instabilities in shock formation, the self-generation of magnetic fields in shocks, the influence of external magnetic fields on shock formation, and the signatures of particle acceleration in shocks. Our first experiments using Thomson scattering diagnostics studied the plasma state from a single foil and from double foils whose flows collide "head-on" Our data showed that the flow velocity and electron density were 10 8 cm/s and 10 19 cm -3, respectively, where the Coulomb mean free path is much larger than the size of the interaction region. Simulations of our experimental conditions show that weak Weibel mediated current filamentation and magnetic field generation were likely starting to occur. This paper presents the results from these first Omega experiments. © 2011.
AIP Conference Proceedings 1462 (2012) 149-154
A review of the proton radiography technique will be presented. This technique employs laser-accelerated laminar bunches of protons to diagnose the temporal and spatial characteristic of the electric and magnetic fields generated during high-intensity laser-plasma interactions. The remarkable temporal and spatial resolution that this technique can achieve (of the order of a picosecond and a few microns respectively) candidates this technique as the preferrable one, if compared to other techniques, to probe high intensity laser-matterinteractions. © 2012 American Institute of Physics.