Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Neutron Production from Z-pinch Plasmas at the 1 MA Zebra Generator
by McKee, Erik Scott, Ph.D., University of Nevada, Reno, 2016, 161; 10247687
Abstract (Summary)

Neutrons produced deuterium Z-pinch plasmas are widely acknowledged to be a consequence of highly accelerated deuterons undergoing nuclear fusion with relatively stationary deuterons. The acceleration is thought to occur in intense fields created in the MHD instabilities that punctuate the plasma column. Interestingly, the energies of the accelerated ions exceed the applied voltage across the electrode gap. We use the 1 MA Zebra pulsed-power generator at the Nevada Terawatt Facility (NTF) to explore this poorly understood fast neutron production mechanism by creating deuterium Z-pinches in three distinct types of target loads. The loads are a cylindrical shell of deuterium gas, the far less explored deuterided palladium wire arrays, and a deuterium-carbon ablated laser plume target, which is unique to the NTF.

The pinch dynamics vary considerably in these three targets and provide the opportunity to explore the ion acceleration mechanism. We infer the characteristics of the accelerating fields from a wide range of diagnostic data including the neutron yield, energy spectrum and angular distribution, and the properties of the matching electron beams that are accelerated in the same field, and the energetic X-rays they produce on stopping. The plasma and the instabilities were recorded on several high-speed imaging diagnostics along with time-integrated soft (<10 keV) X-ray pinhole images. The three load types produced total neutron yields in the 108–1010 n/pulse range. The synchronization we observe between the ion and electron beams and the development of instabilities leads us to conrm the acceleration hypothesis. We also present the characteristics of the fields and ion beams in these varied pinches.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Darling, Timothy W.
Commitee: Covington, Aaron, Neill, Paul, Presura, Radu, Telyakovskiy, Aleksey
School: University of Nevada, Reno
Department: Physics
School Location: United States -- Nevada
Source: DAI-B 78/07(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Plasma physics
Keywords: Beams, Fusion, Instabilities, Neutron, Plasma, Z-pinch
Publication Number: 10247687
ISBN: 978-1-369-51343-1
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