Speaker: Dr. Kirk Flippo, Los Alamos National Laboratory
Abstract: High Energy Density Laboratory Plasma (HEDLP) science is one of the few areas in physics where the US, compared to the rest of the world, has a significant lead. In general, HEDLP has great breadth encompassing high energy density hydrodynamics, radiation-dominated dynamics and material properties, magnetized high energy density plasma physics, nonlinear optics of plasmas, relativistic high energy density plasma physics and warm dense matter physics. Specific to fusion this entails Inertial Confinement Fusion (ICF) and several alternative concepts known collectively as Magnetized Target Fusion (MTF) or Magneto-Inertial Fusion (MIF). MIF concepts are basically a mixture of Magnetic Confinement Fusion and ICF, where the ICF fuel can now be less dense and compressed less due to the insulating effects of the applied magnetic field. A very brief history of the Controlled Thermonuclear Research program at Los Alamos is presented to illustrate how the more modern concepts for fusion came about, and how our recent work in laser-accelerated electrons and ions is poised to further bring about important changes and additions to these concepts. Our work has focused on a small subset of HEDLP, namely ultra-high intensity laser matter interactions, which have been producing high energy particles for over 10 years, and now the technology is reaching a maturity where the physics can be controlled and applied to the aforementioned problems, as well as a host of others from hadron cancer therapy to illicit nuclear material detection. These interactions create Megagauss magnetic fields and Megaamp current beams of MeV kinetic energy. The extremes (temperatures, pressures and field strengths) of the field have led some to brand it the X-games of physics. In all seriousness, eXtreme hype aside, HEDLP science has a bright future, with the potential to be the next technological and economic driver of the 21st century.