Effects of Thin High-z Layers on the Hydrodynamics of Laser-Accelerated Plastic Targets
NAVAL RESEARCH LAB WASHINGTON DC PLASMA PHYSICS DIV
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We present experimental results and simulations that study the effects of thin metallic layers with high atomic number high-Z on the hydrodynamics of laser accelerated plastic targets. These experiments employ a laser pulse with a low-intensity foot that rises into a high-intensity main pulse. This pulse shape simulates the generic shape needed for high-gain fusion implosions. Imprint of laser nonuniformity during start up of the low intensity foot is a well-known seed for hydrodynamic instability. We observe large reductions in hydrodynamic instability seeded by laser imprint when certain minimum thickness gold or palladium layers are applied to the laser-illuminated surface of the targets. The experiment indicates that the reduction in imprint is at least as large as that obtained by a 6 times improvement in the laser uniformity. We present simulations supported by experiments showing that during the low intensity foot the laser light can be nearly completely absorbed by the high-Z layer. X-rays originating from the high-Z layer heat the underlying lower-Z plastic target material and cause large buffering plasma to form between the layer and the accelerated target. This long-scale plasma apparently isolates the target from laser nonuniformity and accounts for the observed large reduction in laser imprint. With onset of the higher intensity main pulse, the high-Z layer expands and the laser light is transmitted. This technique will be useful in reducing laser imprint in pellet implosions and thereby allow the design of more robust targets for high-gain laser fusion.
- Fusion Devices (Thermonuclear)
- Fluid Mechanics