Neutron Generation and Ion Acceleration


Our goal is to efficiently create a micro-fusion environment and produce an intense source of fusion neutrons through the irradiation of deuterated nanowire arrays with intense laser pulses. The nanowire arrays allow for the deep penetration of light into the target and forms an ultra high energy density (UHED) plasma.  The deuterium ions from the nanowires are accelerated to energies of millions of electron volts. These deuterons collide and fuse to produce He atoms and neutrons.  We demonstrated a 500X increase on fusion neutron generation over flat target irradiated under the same laser conditions.  Results of the first experiments conducted at an increased intensity of ~ 5 x 10^21 W/cm^2 with ultra-high contrast pulses from a frequency-doubled petawatt-class laser are underway compared with 3-D relativistic particle-in-cell simulations. Neutron beams can easely to throught imaging through high Z materials, to image objects that can not be seen with x-rays, and be used to characterization of crystal structures, and  the detection of fissile nuclear material.

Neutron Generation Diagram
Ion Acceleration

Selected Publications 

[1] Curtis, C. Calvi, J. Tinsley, R. Hollinger, V. Kaymak, A. Pukhov, S.J. Wang, A. Rockwood, Y. Wang, V.N. Shlyaptsev, and J. J. Rocca, “Micro-scale fusion in dense relativistic nanowire array plasmas”. Nature Communications. 91077, (2018).10.1038/s41467-018-03445-z.


DoD  Air Force,  Deparment of Energy