Graduate Exam Abstract

Alden Curtis

Ph.D. Preliminary

August 15, 2017, 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm

B205 Engineering

Microscale fusion in relativistic nanowire plasma

Abstract: Nuclear fusion is regularly created in spherical plasma compressions driven by multi-kilojoule pulses from the world’s largest lasers. Here we demonstrate a new dense fusion environment created by irradiating arrays of deuterated nanostructures with Joule-level pulses from a compact ultrafast laser. The irradiation of ordered deuterated polyethylene nanowires arrays with femtosecond pulses of relativistic intensity creates ultra-high energy density plasmas in which deuterons (D) are accelerated up to MeV energies, efficiently driving D-D fusion reactions and ultrafast neutron bursts. We have measured up to 2 x 106 fusion neutrons/Joule, an increase of ~500 times with respect to flat solid targets, a record yield for Joule-level lasers. Moreover, in accordance with simulation predictions we observe a rapid increase in neutron yield with laser pulse energy. The results will impact nuclear science and high energy density research and can lead to bright ultrafast quasi-monoenergetic neutron point sources for imaging and materials studies.

Adviser: Jorge Rocca
Co-Adviser: Jim Tinsley
Non-ECE Member: Siu Au Lee
Member 3: Mario Marconi
Addional Members: Diego Krapf

in progress

Program of Study:
Synchrotron engineering
quantum mechanics 1
quantum mechanics 2
math physics
lasers 1
lasers 2
physical optics
ultrafast optics