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Z-Pinch-Driven Fast Ignition Fusion

Roger A. Vesey, Robert B. Campbell, Stephen A. Slutz, David L. Hanson, Michael E. Cuneo, Thomas A. Mehlhorn, John L. Porter

Fusion Science and Technology

Volume 49 / Number 3 / April 2006 / Pages 384-398

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Fast ignition using pulsed-power drivers combines the efficient production of X-rays to drive fusion fuel assembly with precise ultraintense laser pulses for fuel ignition. Z-pinches convert electrical energy into thermal X-ray energy with high efficiency, which makes them attractive drivers for indirect-drive fuel assembly. Currently, experiments use the Z-pinch vacuum hohlraum, in which the Z-pinch heats a hohlraum that reemits thermal X-rays to drive the capsule. Surface-guided hemispherical capsule implosion experiments in Z-pinch vacuum hohlraums are in progress to study energetics, symmetry control, and pulse shaping. Simulations including radiation asymmetry and glide-plane physics have been performed to optimize the imploded fuel. Higher density capsule implosions at a given driver energy may be possible using the Z-pinch dynamic hohlraum, in which the Z-pinch plasma itself creates the hohlraum. Capsule and hohlraum designs for both vacuum and dynamic hohlraum sources are in progress, including liquid cryogenic fuel capsules. Analytic models for D-T fuel heating and burn have been developed for scoping purposes and breakeven scaling. Implicit particle-in-cell modeling of the interaction of laser-produced energetic particles with calculated fuel configurations demonstrates that details of the entire fuel/glide material density profile significantly affect the calculated energy deposition and thus the ignition requirements.

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