Synopsis: Pushing toward better nuclear data

Dense plasmas created by lasers used for inertial confinement fusion research have been used to extract precise basic nuclear physics data.
Synopsis figure
J. A. Frenje et al., Phys. Rev. Lett. (2011)

Researchers probe many important nuclear reactions using collisions produced with accelerators. Gleaning good data on some fundamental reactions can be problematic, however. For example, low-energy cross sections often need to be extrapolated from high-energy measurements. In those and other cases, nuclear physics research benefits from an enlarged toolkit for measurement of basic cross-section data.

Writing in Physical Review Letters, Johan Frenje at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, and colleagues report their use of data obtained in laser-driven inertial confinement fusion experiments to extract precise cross sections for important light-ion interactions in which neutrons scatter off deuterons (2H) and tritons (3H).

The research team created high-density plasmas by using the OMEGA laser system to implode glass capsules filled with deuterium and tritium. Sixty powerful laser beams strike the outer surface of the capsule, generating a plasma that then pushes it inward to compress the gas. As the gas reaches thermonuclear conditions, reactions create 14.1MeV neutrons that collide with the hydrogen isotopes, and scattering cross sections are extracted from the energy spectra of these species. The results match ab initio calculations well, providing not only a boost to theory but also data on reactions of crucial importance to nuclear astrophysics and fusion energy research. – David Voss


Announcements

More Announcements »

Subject Areas

AstrophysicsNuclear PhysicsPlasma Physics

Previous Synopsis

Atomic and Molecular Physics

Quantum magnetism with polar molecules

Read More »

Next Synopsis

Particles and Fields

Slow Neutrons Are Dense

Read More »

Related Articles

Viewpoint: Unlocking the Hidden Information in Starlight
Astrophysics

Viewpoint: Unlocking the Hidden Information in Starlight

Quantum metrology shows that it is always possible to estimate the separation of two stars, no matter how close together they are. Read More »

Synopsis: Emptiness Constrains the Universe
Astrophysics

Synopsis: Emptiness Constrains the Universe

The distribution of galaxies around regions of relatively empty space can be used to constrain cosmological parameters. Read More »

Viewpoint: Of Gluons and Fireflies
Nuclear Physics

Viewpoint: Of Gluons and Fireflies

Improved models of gluon fluctuations within protons have been developed and applied to particle collision data, pointing to strong gluon fluctuations at high energies. Read More »

More Articles