National Nuclear Security Administration

Z machine will see radiation effects through new lens

August 30, 2017

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Z machine at Sandia National Laboratories, which will be employing a new type of lens for high-energy-density physics experiments.

The Inertial Confinement Fusion (ICF) program at Sandia National Laboratories is preparing to take an entirely new approach to the study of high energy density physics. The ICF Program recently completed a critical design review of a new X-ray diagnostic in a joint effort between multiple research institutions.

The Wolter Optic prototypeSandia intends to use a specific type of high-resolution instrument known as a Wolter optic, or lens, to improve X-ray sources for testing non-nuclear components under extreme conditions. Applying this type of mirror system to the experiments performed with the Z Pulsed Power Facility (Z machine) has never been done before.

Wolter optics have previously been used extensively in X-ray astronomy but could be a game-changer for enhancing the harsh environments produced by the Z machine’s X-rays that are used for radiation effects testing.

This new Wolter diagnostic is expected to provide spatial resolution and sensitivity far superior to existing capabilities. It consists of high-precision curved surfaces coated with carefully-designed layers to provide a very specific, narrow-band X-ray reflection.

The collaboration developing the optic for Z machine leverages different groups’ expertise in optics and astrophysical applications of the Wolter design.

The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is designing and calibrating the optic and providing overall project management.

The NASA Marshall Space Flight Center is fabricating a high-quality mandrel, which is a piece of machinery used to craft the lens. The Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics is coating and replicating the multi-layer optics from the mandrel.

Finally, Sandia will characterize and field the diagnostic on Z machine starting next year so it can be used for physics experiments.