HEDS Center Seminar Series logo

The High Energy Density Science (HEDS) Center invites HEDS researchers to speak as part of an ongoing seminar series at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Contact grabowski5 [at] (Paul Grabowski) for more information.

All presentations are the works of the speakers and owned by their respective institutions. We thank the speakers for permission to post their work here.

Carolyn Kuranz
University of Michigan
July 26, 2018

Alec Thomas
University of Michigan
July 19, 2018

Stephanie Hansen
Sandia National Laboratories
June 28, 2018

Don Winget
University of Texas at Austin
June 21, 2018

Andrew Baczewski
Sandia National Laboratories
June 14, 2018

Michael Murillo
Michigan State University
May 17, 2018

Roger Blandford
Stanford University
May 3, 2018

Charlie Starrett
Los Alamos National Laboratory
April 19, 2018

Andrew Higgins/Phil Lubin
University of California, Santa Barbara
April 10, 2018

Marianna Safronova
University of Delaware
April 5, 2018

Petros Tzeferacos
University of Chicago
March 22, 2018

Carla Frohlich
North Carolina State University
February 22, 2018

Robert Byer
Stanford University
February 8, 2018

Edison Liang
Rice University
February 1, 2018

Chris McGuffey
University of California, San Diego
January 25, 2018

Scott Baalrud
University of Iowa
January 11, 2018

Roberto Mancini
University of Nevada, Reno
December 14, 2017

Robert Mancini

Atomic physics of high-energy density and radiation-driven plasmas

Atomic physics impacts emission and absorption of radiation in plasmas as well as energy deposition and transport, playing a key role in both modeling and diagnosis of plasmas. Inertial confinement fusion x-ray spectroscopy relies on collisional-radiative atomic kinetics, detailed Stark-broadened spectral line shapes, spectroscopic quality radiation transport, and advanced data analysis techniques. The seminar will discuss the analysis of spatially averaged and resolved plasma conditions in implosion cores, the state of the unablated compressed shell, the migration of shell tracer into the core, and the application of multi-objective data analysis driven by a Pareto genetic algorithm. In laboratory photoionized plasma experimentsperformed at the Z Machine, a gas-cell filled with neon was irradiated with a burst of x-ray flux emitted by a wire-array z-pinch. We modeled the spectral distribution of the x-ray drive impinging on the gas-cell, Boltzmann electron kinetics to study photoelectron thermalization and the electron distribution function, and radiation-hydrodynamic simulations with inline collisional-radiative atomic kinetics. To compute electron temperatures consistent with observation, the details of the photon-energy distribution of the drive, x-ray attenuation through the cell’s window, and collisional-radiative atomic kinetics coupled to the x-ray flux need to be taken into account. Opportunities for research collaboration in theory and modeling as well as data interpretation and analysis will be emphasized.

PDF iconAtomic physics of high-energy density and radiation-driven plasmas

Richard Dendy
Warwick University
November 16, 2017

Fusion-born alpha-particles as an intense collective radiation source: from JET and TFTR to ITER

The central physics objective of fusion research is to confine fusion-born ions long enough for their energy to keep the plasma hot. Measuring the properties of these ion populations was a standing challenge for deuterium-tritium plasmas in the Joint European Torus (JET) and the Tokamak Fusion Test Reactor (TFTR), and remains so for ITER. Fortunately, there is an initially unexpected, but widespread, tendency for spatially localized inversions in the velocity distribution of fusion-born ions to arise naturally in large Magnetic Confinement Fusion (MCF) plasmas. The associated free energy is released in the form of intense (orders of magnitude times black-body) spectrally structured radiation: ion cyclotron emission (ICE). Understanding the fast (a few ion gyroperiods) collective relaxation process whereby ICE is generated is essential for the exploitation of ICE as a diagnostic for fusion-born ion populations. Progress has been good, but intermittent: it includes pioneering analytical predictions by Soviet scientists in the 1970s; extended analytical studies in parallel with JET and TFTR D-T experiments in the 1990s; and direct numerical simulation using particle in cell/hybrid codes at present [1,2]. The dearth of D-T MCF plasma experiments for ICE studies since 1998 has been relieved by abstruse energetic ion populations in contemporary Korean and Japanese experiments: fusion-born protons in Korea Superconducting Tokamak Advanced Research (KSTAR) deuterium plasmas [2] and sub-Alfvénic neutral beam ions in the Large Helical Device (LHD). These relax by generating ICE in interesting yet explicable ways in the presence of superb modern diagnostics. Operating ICE “in reverse” [3] could channel alpha-particle energy to the core of the plasma.

Ronald Redmer
University of Rostock
November 9, 2017

Ronald REdmer

Warm dense matter – probing planetary interiors

The behavior of warm dense matter (pressures up to the TPa region and temperatures up to several eV) is of paramount importance for understanding the interiors, evolution, and magnetic fields of solar and extrasolar planets. While the light elements H and He are the main components of gas giants such as Jupiter, mixtures of C-N-O-H are relevant for Neptune-like planets, and minerals of the MgO-FeO-SiO2 complex are the building blocks of rocky planets (Earth and super-Earths). However, the high-pressure phase diagram of these elements and mixtures is not well known, particularly the slope of the melting curve. Furthermore, insulator-to-metal transitions and phase separation may occur in warm dense matter. These high-pressure phenomena have a strong impact on interior, evolution, and dynamo models for planets, and constitute a major challenge to high-pressure, plasma, and computational physics.

Molecular dynamics simulations based on finite-temperature density functional theory are used to predict the equation of state, the high-pressure phase diagram, and the transport properties of warm dense matter for a wide range of densities and temperatures typical for the interior of planets. These data are benchmarked against diamond-anvil-cell and shock-wave experiments and then applied to construct interior and evolution models for solar and extrasolar planets.

PDF iconWarm dense matter – probing planetary interiors

Frank Graziani
Director, High Energy Density Science Center
November 2, 2017

The High Energy Density Science Center: A Vision for the Future

The High Energy Density Science Center (HEDSC) was established in late 2015 through a joint agreement between the Physical and Life Sciences, Weapons and Complex Integration, and NIF and Photon Science Directorates. The Center’s goal is to build a high energy density community through support of, and collaboration with, academic partners and integrating those efforts with the programs at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). The Center is built around four focus areas: (1) education, (2) workshops and seminars, (3) workforce pipeline to the programs, and (4) enabling research collaborations between LLNL and academic partners. In this talk, we will present the current activities of the Center, including the interactions with the University of California, San Diego through the University of California Office of the President award and recent results from the strategic planning process.

PDF iconThe High Energy Density Science (HEDS) Center: A Vision for the Future

Goetz Lehmann

Institute for Theoretical Physics, Heinrich Heine University
September 28, 2017

Professor Goetz Lehmann

Plasma-based Amplification and Manipulation of High-power Laser Pulses

In the last decade, the increasing availability of terawatt- and petawatt-class lasers with pulse durations on the order of 10 to 100 femtoseconds has intensified interest in the relativistic interaction between laser radiation and matter. Today laser intensities up to 1022 W/cm2 can be achieved. Most high-intensity lasers today rely on amplification schemes that can barely be scaled to higher power levels due to material damage thresholds. An alternative approach that allows circumventing these issues is the use of plasma as an amplification medium. In the presentation, Prof. Lehmann discusses Brillouin-type plasma-based laser amplifiers and show that the ion plasma waves, driven by the two laser pulses, eventually form photonic crystals.

Dirk Gericke

Center for Fusion, Space, and Astrophysics, University of Warwick
September 21, 2017

Professor Dirk Gericke

The Relaxation Cascade in Driving High-Energy Density Matter

High-energy-density matter (HEDM) in the laboratory is usually created in states far from equilibrium as the large energy input needed for ionization and heating drives particles into specific states and distributes the energy unevenly between the species. The pathways to equilibrium, or at least the relaxation times, are therefore very important for interpreting most experiments. This talk will review the different stages of the equilibration process that span the time scales from femtoseconds, for establishing an equilibrium distribution for the electrons, to nanoseconds, for material rearrangements. Special focus is given to the effects of strong interactions inherent to HEDM. Finally, the nonequilibrium physics discussed is applied to a number of recent experiments.

Franklin Dollar
Department of Physics and Astronomy, UC Irvine
September 14, 2017

Portrait of Franklin Dollar, UC Irvine

Ultrafast Laser-driven Probes for Investigating High Energy Density Physics

Intense laser-plasma interactions are a robust source of radiation pertinent for investigating matter in extreme conditions, as evidenced by the Matter in Extreme Conditions beamline at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and the Advanced Radiographic Capability beamline at NIF. Experiments showcasing the use of short-pulse lasers to create bright soft x-rays with circular helicity, white-light spectrum radiation suitable for near-edge x-ray absorption fine structure radiography, and radiography using high-energy electrons will be presented. Dynamic measurements of nano-plasmas will also be presented.

Emily Carter
School of Engineering and Applied Science, Princeton University
August 31, 2017

Princeton professor Emily Carter

Atomic-Scale Assessment of First-Wall Materials for Fusion Reactors: Insights and Challenges for Materials Simulations

Quantum mechanics–derived computer simulations can provide insights into the survivability of first-wall and divertor materials in prototype magnetic confinement fusion reactors. I present results of research aimed at assessing how hydrogen isotopes interact with solid tungsten and liquid lithium, candidates for plasma-facing components of fusion reactors. The research utilizes both standard Kohn-Sham density functional theory (KS-DFT) as well as orbital-free (OF) DFT. Over the last two decades, my research group has advanced the latter theory in terms of accuracy and efficiency. Our open-source code PROFESS exhibits quasilinear scaling with a small prefactor, rendering it orders of magnitude faster than KSDFT, thereby enabling significantly larger system-size (static and dynamic) simulations. The method also now works on leadership-class petascale computers (Titan at ORNL). However, OFDFT relies on kinetic energy density functionals, which at this point are still only as accurate as KSDFT for main group semiconductors and metals. Ongoing work aims to alleviate this problem, which ultimately should extend OFDFT to the rest of the periodic table.

Michael Zingale
Department of Physics and Astronomy, Stony Brook University
August 10, 2017

Michael Zingale headshot

Modeling Stellar Explosions with the AMReX Astrophysics Suite

The seminar will describe ongoing simulations of Type Ia supernovae and x-ray bursts. Type Ia supernovae are the brightest thermonuclear explosions in the present-day universe, and are important for nucleosynthesis and measuring distances in cosmology. To date, however, there is no consensus on what the pre-explosion system looks like. The popular progenitor models, along with their strengths and weaknesses, will be discussed, along with the work being done to understand them. X-ray bursts provide a different set of challenges to the modeler, but ultimately, they can help us understand the nuclear equation of state. Stony Brook’s simulations use the publicly-available adaptive mesh refinement codes Castro and Maestro, built on the AMReX library. Maestro models subsonic stellar flows, while Castro focuses on highly-compressible flows. These codes share the same microphysics (reaction networks, equations of state) and parallelization strategy. In addition to the science results, the development of these codes for next generation architectures, including GPU-based supercomputers, will be discussed.

Warren Mori
Departments of Physics and Astronomy and Electrical Engineering, University of California at Los Angeles
July 27, 2017

Professor Warren Mori

Exaflop, Petawatt, and Terabar Physics

Exaflop (1018 flop) computers are on the horizon. These computers are complex and expensive instruments that require significant preparation in developing software and analysis methods to use effectively. They have the potential to dramatically advance the rate of scientific discovery. Two areas where petaflop computers are impacting plasma physics research are plasma-based acceleration and the nonlinear optics of plasmas, both of which are part what is called high-energy-density (HED) plasma physics. In plasma-based acceleration, electrons or positrons surf plasma wave wakes excited by petawatt lasers or particle beams at rates in excess of 50 GeV/m (three orders of magnitude higher than current accelerator technology). At the National Ignition Facility (NIF), the fuel is to be compressed to hundreds of gigabars of pressure, causing ignition. It is essential that the laser energy hit and be absorbed into x-rays where it is aimed for such compression to be achieved.

Pisin Chen
Leung Center for Cosmology and Particle Astrophysics, National Taiwan University
July 20, 2017

Pisin Chen  Director, Department of Physics, National Taiwan University

Tabletop Analog Black Holes to Investigate Information-Loss Paradox

The question of whether Hawking evaporation violates unitarity, and therefore results in the loss of information, remains unresolved since Hawking's seminal discovery in 1974. So far the investigations remain mostly theoretical, as it is almost impossible to resolve this paradox through direct astrophysical black-hole observations. The seminar will describe how relativistic plasma mirrors can be accelerated drastically and stopped abruptly by impinging ultra-intense x-ray pulses on solid plasma targets with a density gradient. This is analogous to the late-time evolution of black-hole Hawking evaporation. An experimental concept will be proposed, and a self-consistent set of physical parameters is presented. Critical issues such as black-hole unitarity may be addressed through the measurement of the entanglement between the Hawking radiation and partner modes.

Farhat Beg
Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, University of California at San Diego
June 29, 2017

Professor Farhat Beg

Fast Ignition: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The fast ignition (FI) concept for inertial confinement fusion (ICF) has the potential to provide a significant advance in the technical attractiveness of inertial fusion energy. In FI, compression of the fuel to high density and heating are achieved in separate processes. Similar to conventional ICF, a number of long-pulse lasers compress a shell to create a high-density fuel plasma. The requirements on the symmetry of the target are less stringent in FI compared to conventional ICF due to the external heating source. In addition, higher gain is expected with the FI scheme because more fuel mass can be burned with less compression energy. This scheme involves some of the most challenging and complex physics of laser-matter interactions and energetic particle transport in varying density plasmas. In recent experiments and modeling, critical issues pertinent to electron source, transport through plasma, and target design have been identified. Experimental and integrated modeling provided detailed characterization of these issues and enabled validated measurements of total coupling of the laser energy to the compressed core.

Siegfried Glenzer
SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory
May 25, 2017

Siegfried Glenzer Stanford University

Visualizing the Transformation of Matter in Extreme Conditions

At the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, we have developed powerful ultrafast pump-probe techniques to measure the structural transformations and the physical properties of matter in extreme conditions. We apply enormous pressures to our samples using high-power laser irradiation followed by x-ray laser pulses from the Linac Coherent Light Source to take split-second photographs of the states that result. This seminar describes our experiments that visualize compression, solid-solid phase transitions, and the formation of warm dense matter. These experiments deliver data of unprecedented accuracy that allow critical experimental tests of theory in the challenging near-Fermi degenerate regimes or in the non-ideal plasma state. Recently, we complemented our x-ray probing capability with high-energy electron diffraction techniques to investigate isochorically laser-heated matter. This data set holds surprises; our results do not support previous claims about bond hardening in warm dense matter and resolve previously undetermined melting regime boundaries.

Sarah Stewart
Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, University of California at Davis
May 11, 2017

Portrait of professor Sarah Stewart

Following the multicomponent phase diagram to the origin of the Moon

The giant impact hypothesis remains the leading theory for lunar origin. However, current models struggle to explain the Moon’s composition and isotopic similarity with Earth. Here we present a new lunar origin model. High-energy, high-angular momentum giant impacts can create a post-impact structure that exceeds the corotation limit (CoRoL), which defines the hottest thermal state and angular momentum possible for a corotating body. In a typical post-CoRoL body, traditional definitions of mantle, atmosphere and disk are not appropriate, and the body forms a new type of planetary structure, named a synestia. Using simulations of cooling synestias combined with dynamic, thermodynamic, and geochemical calculations, we show that satellite formation from a synestia can produce the main features of our Moon. The key to lunar origin is understanding the high energy density state of the Earth after a giant impact.

Toshiki Tajima
Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of California at Irvine
April 27, 2017

Portrait of professor Toshiki Tajima

X-ray Wakefield Accelerator on a Chip

It is well established that an intense optical laser pulse can drive coherent and stable wakefields that can accelerate electrons to high energies in plasmas. The recent inventions of thin film compression of lasers and its associated relativistic compression can lead to the generation of a single-cycled optical laser pulse and its relativistically compressed single-cycled x-ray laser pulse. This introduces the possibility of an x-ray laser-driven wakefield now in materials at the solid density. We suggested nanoholed material as a possible medium. The nanoholed channel allows well collimated wakefields and avoids unnecessary collisions for the accelerated beam. Further, a corrugated nanochannel could result in wakefield-driven gamma-ray sources. Because the accelerating media in nanomaterials are now in a solid (rather than in a gas), it is easy to design the structure, although rastering over many holes may be necessary. Such precision design should further allow us to pick up ions, such as by the phase velocity gradation; or the single-cycled property of the laser could make ion acceleration more coherent.

Burkhard Militzer


Departments of Earth and Planetary Science, University of California, Berkeley
April 20, 2017

Photo of professor Burkhard Militzer

Path Integral Monte Carlo Simulations of Warm Dense Matter

The properties of materials at extreme pressure and temperature conditions are important in astrophysics and fusion science. When models for Jupiter’s interior are constructed to match gravity data from the NASA mission Juno, an accurate knowledge of the equation of state of hydrogen–helium mixtures is essential. Modern dynamic high pressure experiments typically probe megabar and gigabar pressures. In order to provide a comprehensive theoretical description of materials at such extreme conditions, results from path integral Monte Carlo simulations will be presented. Equation of state results for first-row elements including carbon, CH plastic, oxygen, water, nitrogen, and neon were derived with restricted path calculations that relied on free-particle nodes. Shock Hugoniot curves were computed and compared with experimental results. The talk will describe how bound states can be incorporated efficiently into the nodal structure, which enables the simulation of heavier elements, including sodium and silicon.

Kieron Burke
Departments of Physics and Chemistry, UC Irvine
March 2, 2017

picture of professor Kieron Burke

Improving Simulations of Warm Dense Matter by Developing Thermal Density Functional Theory

In the past decade or so, quantum molecular dynamics—simulations of classical ions coupled to density functional theory (DFT) calculations for electrons—have provided unprecedented quantitative agreement between simulation and measurement for warm dense matter and tremendous insight into equilibrium and near-equilibrium processes. Routine calculations use modern density functional approximations that neglect thermal many-body effects. The talk will summarize recent efforts to generalize much ground-state DFT methodology to calculations at finite temperatures.