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[en] The Z-pinch, perhaps the oldest subject in plasma physics, has achieved a remarkable renaissance in recent years, following a few decades of neglect due to its basically unstable MHD character. Using wire arrays, a significant transition at high wire number led to a great improvement in both compression and uniformity of the Z-pinch. Resulting from this the Z-accelerator at Sandia at 20 MA in 100 ns has produced a powerful, short pulse, soft x-ray source >230 TW for 4.5 ns) at a high efficiency of ∼15%. This has applications to inertial confinement fusion. Several hohlraum designs have been tested. The vacuum hohlraum has demonstrated the control of symmetry of irradiation on a capsule, while the dynamic hohlraum at a higher radiation temperature of 230 eV has compressed a capsule from 2 mm to 0.8 mm diameter with a neutron yield >3 x 1011 thermal DD neutrons, a record for any capsule implosion. World record ion temperatures of >200 keV have recently been measured in a stainless-steel plasma designed for Kα emission at stagnation, due, it was predicted, to ion-viscous heating associated with the dissipation of fast-growing short wavelength nonlinear MHD instabilities. Direct fusion experiments using deuterium gas-puffs have yielded 3.9 x 1013 neutrons with only 5% asymmetry, suggesting for the first time a mainly thermal source. The physics of wire-array implosions is a dominant theme. It is concerned with the transformation of wires to liquid-vapour expanding cores; then the generation of a surrounding plasma corona which carries most of the current, with inward flowing low magnetic Reynolds number jets correlated with axial instabilities on each wire; later an almost constant velocity, snowplough-like implosion occurs during which gaps appear in the cores, leading to stagnation on the axis, and the production of the main soft-x-ray pulse. These studies have been pursued also with smaller facilities in other laboratories around the world. At Imperial College, conical and radial wire arrays have led to highly collimated tungsten plasma jets with a Mach number of >20, allowing laboratory astrophysics experiments to be undertaken. These highlights will be underpinned in this review with the basic physics of Z-pinches including stability, kinetic effects, and finally its applications. (topical review)
[en] Possibility of generating electric pulses by formation and development of power instabilities in Z-pinches is considered. Evaluations of developed thereby ε magnetic induction EMF are presented. Simplified process models are studied whereby the plasma is most cases ideally conductive and the circuit is in electrotechnical approximation
[en] The limited understanding of the mechanisms driving the mass ablation rate of cylindrical wires arrays is presently one of the major limitations in predicting array performance at the higher current levels required for inertial confinement fusion (ICF) ignition. Continued investigation of this phenomenon is crucial to realize the considerable potential for wire arrays to drive both ICF and inertial fusion energy, by enabling a predictive capability in computational modeling. We present the first study to directly compare the mass ablation rates of wire arrays as a function of the current rise rate. Formation of the precursor column is investigated on both the MAPGIE (1 MA, 250ns [Mitchell et al., Rev. Sci. Instrum. 67, 1533 (1996)]) and COBRA (1 MA, 100ns [Greenly et al., Rev. Sci. Instrum. 79, 073501 (2008)]) generators, and results are used to infer the change in the effective ablation velocity induced by the rise rate of the drive current. Laser shadowography, gated extreme ultraviolet (XUV) imaging, and x-ray diodes are used to compare the dynamical behavior on the two generators, and X-pinch radiography and XUV spectroscopy provide density evolution and temperature measurements respectively. Results are compared to predictions from an analytical scaling model developed previously from MAGPIE data, based on a fixed ablation velocity. For COBRA the column formation time occurs at 116±5 ns and for Al arrays and 146±5 ns for W arrays, with Al column temperature in the range of 70-165 eV. These values lie close to model predictions, inferring only a small change in the ablation velocity is induced by the factor of 2.5 change in current rise time. Estimations suggest the effective ablation velocities for MAGPIE and COBRA experiments vary by a maximum of 30%.
[en] Using an X-ray camera-obscura with the 5 μm spatial resolution, the structure of micropinch region in a low-induction vacuum spark with a steel anode in the spectrum ranges < or approximately 15 and 3 A is studied. It is shown, that the micropinch region presents an object stretched along the discharge axis and frequenty decomposed into separate radian sections of 30 μm. A transverse dimension of a micropinch at the moment of the most intensive radiation of K-spectrum (1.75 A < lambda < 1.95 A) has the value of approximately 10 μm, which corresponds to the results of numerical calculations of screw pinching evolution with account of radiation losses. Studies with the camera-obscura in the range lambda < or approximately 15 A (Fe L-spectrum) sometimes reveal the structure in the form of parallel lines < or approximately 5 μm thick, < or approximately 100 μm long, the distance between the lines being approximately 25 to 30 μm
[en] Raising the power of X-ray emission from an X-pinch by increasing the pinch current to the megampere level requires the corresponding increase in the initial linear mass of the load. This can be achieved by increasing either the number of wires or their diameter. In both cases, special measures should be undertaken to prevent the formation of a complicated configuration with an uncontrolled spatial structure in the region of wire crossing, because such a structure breaks the symmetry of the neck formed in the crossing region, destabilizes plasma formation, and degrades X-ray generation. To improve the symmetry of the wire crossing region, X-pinch configurations with a regular multilayer arrangement of wires in this region were proposed and implemented. The results of experiments with various symmetric X-pinch configurations on the COBRA facility at currents of ∼1MA are presented. It is shown that an X-pinch with a symmetric crossing region consisting of several layers of wires made of different materials can be successfully used in megampere facilities. The most efficient combinations of wires in symmetric multilayer X-pinches are found in which only one hot spot forms and that are characterized by a high and stable soft X-ray yield.
[en] Consideration is being given to the turbulence in the framework of two-dimensional electron magnetohydrodynamics typical for zet-pinches of low running density. The condition necessary for applicability of electron magnetohydrodynamics (EMH) is fulfilled in zet-pinch sausage type instabilities of a plasma focus type as well as in high-current diodes. It is shown that preservation of generalized pulse along rotor trajectory results in existence of rich set of steady vortices. Analogy between EMH and ideal liquid is revealed at that. Existence of Petviashvili soliton is possible in zet-pinches in particular. Steady vortices of dipole type realizing the maximum of energy exist besides circular vortices in an ideal liquid
[en] Finite Larmor radius stabilization of Z-pinches is discussed. Stability criteria can be derived for a class of equilibria having constant mass and current density. The internal modes can be stabilized provided the line density not exceed a critical value of the order of 1018 ions/m. (Author)