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Chemical Compatibility of Silica Aerogel Processes with ICF Hohlraums

Kimberly A. DeFriend, Brent F. Espinoza, Arthur Nobile, Jr., Kenneth V. Salazar, Robert D. Day, Norman E. Elliott, Timothy H. Pierce, Joyce E. Elliott, Derek W. Schmidt, Frank Fierro, David Sandoval, Jeff Griego, Adelaida C. Valdez, Michael Droege

Fusion Science and Technology / Volume 49 / Number 4 / May 2006 / Pages 701-706

Technical Paper / Target Fabrication /

Inertial Confinement Fusion (ICF) energy hohlraums are composed of a high-Z material filled with foam. Because of the small pore size and transparency, silica aerogels are used in some ICF targets. The traditional synthesis of silica aerogels require sol-gel polymerization of silicon alkoxide followed by supercritical drying. Some constituents in sol-gel polymerization have been found to contribute to leaching of certain metals at the silica/metal interface. Since the hohlraums are composed of metals, possible chemical reactivity at the silica aerogel and metal hohlraum interface was investigated. The hohlraums studied are aluminum lined with either copper or copper/chromium. Upon initial inspection, the aerogel appeared transparent and uniform, however, closer inspection of the copper wall suggested possible leaching. Alternatively the quality of the aerogel in the copper-chromium hohlraum was very poor with the chromium layer of the hohlraum and some copper completely etched. Control experiments were used to determine the cause of the leaching. When copper is in the presence of sol-gel constituents, Cu2+ ion formed, thus leaching copper from the hohlraum walls. In the presence of chromium, Cr2O72- or CrO42- was identified in solution with the Cu2+, these anions are believed to form copper chromite under the aerogel synthesis procedures utilized.

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