The data-driven future of high energy density physics
Nature Springer Nature 593 (2021) 351-361
Abstract:High-energy-density physics is the field of physics concerned with studying matter at extremely high temperatures and densities. Such conditions produce highly nonlinear plasmas, in which several phenomena that can normally be treated independently of one another become strongly coupled. The study of these plasmas is important for our understanding of astrophysics, nuclear fusion and fundamental physics—however, the nonlinearities and strong couplings present in these extreme physical systems makes them very difficult to understand theoretically or to optimize experimentally. Here we argue that machine learning models and data-driven methods are in the process of reshaping our exploration of these extreme systems that have hitherto proved far too nonlinear for human researchers. From a fundamental perspective, our understanding can be improved by the way in which machine learning models can rapidly discover complex interactions in large datasets. From a practical point of view, the newest generation of extreme physics facilities can perform experiments multiple times a second (as opposed to approximately daily), thus moving away from human-based control towards automatic control based on real-time interpretation of diagnostic data and updates of the physics model. To make the most of these emerging opportunities, we suggest proposals for the community in terms of research design, training, best practice and support for synthetic diagnostics and data analysis.
Demonstration of geometric effects and resonant scattering in the x-ray spectra of high-energy-density plasmas
Physical Review Letters American Physical Society 126 (2021) 085001
Abstract:In a plasma of sufficient size and density, photons emitted within the system have a probability of being re-absorbed and re-emitted multiple times - a phenomenon known in astrophysics as resonant scattering. This effect alters the ratio of optically-thick to optically thin lines, depending on the plasma geometry and viewing angle, and has significant implications for the spectra observed in a number of astrophysical scenarios, but has not previously been studied in a controlled laboratory plasma. We demonstrate the effect in the x-ray spectra emitted by cylindrical plasmas generated by high power laser irradiation, and the results confirm the geometrical interpretation of resonant scattering.
Temperature equilibration due to charge state fluctuations in dense plasmas
Physical Review Letters American Physical Society 127:3 (2021) 35002
Abstract:The charge states of ions in dense plasmas fluctuate due to collisional ionization and recombination. Here, we show how, by modifying the ion interaction potential, these fluctuations can mediate energy exchange between the plasma electrons and ions. Moreover, we develop a theory for this novel electron-ion energy transfer mechanism. Calculations using a random walk approach for the fluctuations suggest that the energy exchange rate from charge state fluctuations could be comparable to direct electron-ion collisions. This mechanism is, however, predicted to exhibit a complex dependence on the temperature and ionization state of the plasma, which could contribute to our understanding of significant variation in experimental measurements of equilibration times.
Calculating opacity in hot, dense matter using second-order electron-photon and two-photon transitions to approximate line broadening
Physical Review Letters American Physical Society 125:14 (2020) 145002
Abstract:Calculations of the opacity of hot, dense matter require models for plasma line broadening. However, the most general theories are too complex to calculate directly and some approximation is inevitably required. The most widely used approaches focus on the line center, where a Lorentzian shape is obtained. Here, we demonstrate that in the opposite limit, far from the line center, the opacity can be expressed in terms of second-order transitions, such as electron-photon and two-photon processes. We suggest that this insight could form the basis for a new approach to improve calculations of opacity in hot, dense matter. Preliminary calculations suggest that this approach could yield increased opacity away from absorption lines.
X-ray-line coincidence photopumping in a potassium-chlorine mixed plasma
Physical Review A American Physical Society 101:5 (2020) 53431