The first inertial confinement fusion implosion experiments with equimolar deuterium-tritium thermonuclear fuel have been performed on the National Ignition Facility. These experiments use 0.17 mg of fuel with the potential for ignition and significant fusion yield conditions. The thermonuclear fuel has been fielded as a cryogenic layer on the inside of a spherical plastic capsule that is mounted in the center of a cylindrical gold hohlraum. Heating the hohlraum with 192 laser beams for a total laser energy of 1.6 MJ produces a soft x-ray field with 300 eV temperature. The ablation pressure produced by the radiation field compresses the initially 2.2-mm diameter capsule by a factor of 30 to a spherical dense fuel shell that surrounds a central hot-spot plasma of 50 μm diameter. While an extensive set of x-ray and neutron diagnostics has been applied to characterize hot spot formation from the x-ray emission and 14.1 MeV deuterium-tritium primary fusion neutrons, thermonuclear fuel assembly is studied by measuring the down-scattered neutrons with energies in the range of 10 to 12 MeV. X-ray and neutron imaging of the compressed core and fuel indicate a fuel thickness of (14 ± 3) μm, which combined with magnetic recoil spectrometer measurements of the fuel areal density of (1 ± 0.09) g cm-2 result in fuel densities approaching 600 g cm-3. The fuel surrounds a hot-spot plasma with average ion temperatures of (3.5 ± 0.1) keV that is measured with neutron time of flight spectra. The hot-spot plasma produces a total fusion neutron yield of 1015 that is measured with the magnetic recoil spectrometer and nuclear activation diagnostics that indicate a 14.1 MeV yield of (7. 5 ± 0. 1) × 1014 which is 70% to 75% of the total fusion yield due to the high areal density. Gamma ray measurements provide the duration of nuclear activity of (170 ± 30) ps. These indirect-drive implosions result in the highest areal densities and neutron yields achieved on laser facilities to date. This achievement is the result of the first hohlraum and capsule tuning experiments where the stagnation pressures have been systematically increased by more than a factor of 10 by fielding low-entropy implosions through the control of radiation symmetry, small hot electron production, and proper shock timing. The stagnation pressure is above 100 Gbars resulting in high Lawson-type confinement parameters of P τ ≃ 10 atm s. Comparisons with radiation-hydrodynamic simulations indicate that the pressure is within a factor of three required for reaching ignition and high yield. This will be the focus of future higher-velocity implosions that will employ additional optimizations of hohlraum, capsule and laser pulse shape conditions.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Condensed Matter Physics