LLNL's HEDS Center arranges classes and short courses for students and LLNL staff on various HEDS topics. Upcoming courses are described below.

Extreme Physics Graduate-Level Course

Instructor: Dr. Jeff Colvin, LLNL

Jeff Colvin, LLNL

Course description: Most matter in the universe--everything from the deep interior of planets to the matter of stars--is at high temperature and/or high pressure compared to the matter of our ordinary experience. Modern high-power lasers, pulsed-power machines, and large particle accelerators allow us to create and study in the laboratory matter at extreme conditions, and to tailor such matter for fusion energy production and other applications. This course provides the student with an introduction to the physics of matter at extreme conditions, as well as an introduction to the computational techniques required to do numerical simulations of the properties and behavior of matter at extreme conditions.

Offered to: LLNL staff for professional development and students for credit.

What the student will learn: Basic properties of dense and classical plasmas; ionization physics; the physical mechanisms by which laser light is absorbed in matter; the basics of fluid dynamics (hydrodynamics) and shock-wave formation and propagation; radiation transport in matter; and the basics of numerical simulation of radiation-hydrodynamics phenomenology.

Course schedule: Fall quarter 2017 consists of 20 1.5-hour class sessions, one class per day on Tuesdays and Thursdays between Thursday, September 28 and Thursday, December 7, 2017, except for Thanksgiving Day (Thursday November 23). Classes will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Pacific time.

Attendance options: Classroom attendance (LLNL or UCSD) or WebEx live or recorded viewing. LLNL location: T1879. UCSD location: Engineering Building 2, R584.

Textbook: Extreme Physics by Jeff Colvin and Jon Larsen, Cambridge University Press, 2013.

extreme physics textbook cover


  1.     Introduction to the course, extreme physics environments, how to achieve extreme conditions
  2.     Properties of dense and classical plasmas--particle distribution functions, kinetic theory, electron-ion collisions (Assignment 1: example problems in kinetic theory)
  3.     Collective plasma effects
  4.     EM wave propagation and laser energy deposition in matter (Assignment 2: example problems and solutions in laser-matter interaction physics)
  5.     Basics of hydrodynamics--the viewpoint of flux, derivation of the Navier-Stokes equations, compression and rarefaction waves (Assignment 3: example problems in hydrodynamics)
  6.     Hydrodynamic instabilities (Assignment 4: example problems in hydrodynamic instabilities)
  7.     Shocks--Hugoniot relations, entropy and adiabaticity, blast waves
  8.     Shocks in solids--elastic-plastic behavior, material constitutive models (Assignment 5: example problems in shock wave physics)
  9.     Equation of state (EOS)--thermodynamic relations, EOS for plasmas and gases
  10.     Equation of state--EOS for solids, crystal structures, phase transitions (Assignment 6: example problems in EOS physics)
  11.     Ionization--electron structure of atoms, Saha and other ionization models (Assignment 7: example problems in ionization physics)
  12.     Thermal energy transport--gradient-driven transport, conductivity coefficients, degeneracy effects (Assignment 8: example problems in thermal energy transport)
  13.     Radiation energy transport--Planck distribution, radiant flux in the Navier-Stokes equations, absorption coefficients
  14.     Radiation energy transport--Kirchoff's Law, derivation of the radiation transfer equation, Pn, SN
  15.     Radiation energy transport--diffusion approximation, local thermodynamic equilibrium, Marshak waves and hohlraums
  16.     Radiation energy transport--material opacity and averaging over photon frequencies (Assignment 9: example problems in radiation energy transport)
  17.     Radiation-hydrodynamics computer codes--different code formulations, basic design philosophy and structure, regions of applicability, finite difference approximations, determining the mesh
  18.     Radiation-hydrodynamics computer codes--accuracy, convergence, consistency, and stability; operator splitting (Assignment 10: example problems in numerical simulation)
  19.     Review and discussion of example problems and solutions in extreme physics
  20.     More review and discussion of example problems and solutions in extreme physics

Grading policy: 10 homework assignments that will count for 60% of final grade and a final exam the week of December 11, 2017, that will count for 40% of final grade.

For more information: Contact fbeg [at] (Farhat Beg) (instructor), colvin5 [at] (Jeff Colvin) (guest lecturer), or gwcollins [at] (Gilbert Collins) (teaching assistant).

Short Courses

Introduction to High-Energy-Density Laser-Plasma Experiments and Diagnostics

This several-week short course surveys the basics of laboratory high-energy-density (HED) plasmas produced by energetic lasers, and principles of several diagnostic instruments used to measure their properties. The course is intended for advanced undergraduates and beginning graduate students interested in pursuing graduate studies in HED physics, and for scientists trained in related fields who seek a broad knowledge of HED physics. At the end of the course, students are expected to be familiar with the field and able to begin studying individual topics in detail, with a holistic understanding of the key principles and relationships linking the various sub-disciplines.

Course topics include:

  1. Introduction to laser matter interaction physics in the “short pulse” (picoseconds) and “long” (nanoseconds) pulse regimes
  2. Principles of laser-driven HED experimental techniques
  3. Physical Principles of Diagnostic Instruments for High-Energy-Density Plasmas
  4. Current HED experiments using lasers, and their underlying physics

About the instructor:

Hui Chen
Dr. Hui Chen completed her undergraduate degree in physics at Sichuan University in Chengdu, China. She received her Ph.D. in plasma physics in 1999 from Imperial College, London, with a thesis on impurity ion transport in the JET tokamak. Dr. Chen then joined the Physics Division at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and has been a staff scientist there since 2001. Her chief research interests are high temperature plasma physics, including intense laser produced relativistic electron-positron pairs, novel sensors for gated x-ray imaging, and x-ray spectroscopy of highly charged ions. Dr. Chen is an internationally recognized physicist who has made important contributions to several areas of plasma physics, most notably in the new field of relativistic positron generation via intense laser-matter interactions. In 2016 she became a Fellow of the American Physical Society (APS) from the Division of Plasma Physics (DPP) for her work in this field. She currently serves as Secretary-Treasurer of APS-DPP, and over the years she also has served on various committees for the APS DPP, the LMJ PETAL project in Europe and the Omega and Jupiter Laser Facility user groups. She has supervised several Ph.D. students and summer interns.


More course information to follow.

Interaction of X Rays with Matter

In this course, we will provide an overview of the interaction of x rays with matter, ranging from low-intensity continuous-wave to high-intensity short-pulse x-ray radiation as produced by x-ray free-electron lasers. We will discuss the relevant physical processes, including the interaction of the x-ray field with electrons, the coupling of the electrons to the ions, and the x-ray induced microscopic and macroscopic changes in materials. As far as time allows, a full quantum mechanical description of the interaction of radiation with matter will be given. Several applications taken from the recent scientific literature will be discussed.

About the instructor:

Stefan Hau-Riege
Dr. Stefan Hau-Riege is a computational and experimental physicist who utilizes x-ray–free–electron–laser (XFEL) based imaging, scattering, and spectroscopic techniques to study the structure, dynamics, and electronic properties of materials transitioning from condensed to warm-dense matter. Part of his current research addresses methods to understand ultrafast processes in materials irradiated by high-intensity x-rays and to alleviate the effect of x-ray damage in XFEL atomic-resolution bioimaging. Dr. Hau-Riege received his M.S. in physics from University of Hamburg in 1996 and his Ph.D. in materials science from MIT in 2000. After working for Intel Corporation as a senior engineer, he joined the LLNL staff in 2001. Dr. Hau-Riege is currently serving as the associate division leader for LLNL's Applied Physics organization. He is an acknowledged expert in the field of x-ray science and the sole author of the High-Intensity X-Rays--Interaction with Matter and Nonrelativistic Quantum X-Ray Physics books, published by Wiley in 2011 and 2015, respectively.


More course information to follow.