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U.S. Researchers Develop Technology Transfer Projects

Two U.S. national laboratories are collaborating on diagnostic advancements on the nation’s premier high-energy-density (HED) facilities. Current projects include NIF’s X-ray streak camera, neutron Time-of-Flight (nToF), neutron imager system (NIS) and other future projects. The lab’s Z facility already has versions of nToF and 1D neutron imaging.

There are many differences between the Z machine and NIF, such as timing, target position and size. Therefore new solutions are required for these issues that will be new to both Z machine and NIF. Many experimentalists use the capabilities of the Z machine. They leverage the transfer of the technology to enable experiments that they require but have not been able to do previously.

Each diagnostic is working as a separate project with the management for each assuring that issues in common will be done together. All of the projects are using proven systems engineering practices, obtaining requirements and constraints before doing the detailed design work.

Many engineering challenges need to be addressed when developing diagnostics at Z. This includes extreme shocks of more than 20G experienced on every experiment, multi-million-electron-volt (MeV) X-ray backgrounds generated, sensitive diagnostic components placed just above the pulsed power components and requiring EMI to be accounted for. In addition, debris ejected from the target region can impact and damage sensitive diagnostic components (able to penetrate 15 centimetres of stainless steel at two meters).

One of the latest collaborations is to bring key stagnation diagnostics to Z. There are well-established diagnostic capabilities demonstrated at NIF that are used to make quantitative measurements on inertial confinement fusion (ICF) plasmas. With these demonstrated capabilities, it is transformational to bring the measurement to maturity for characterizing magnetic direct drive fusion plasmas on Z up to the long-standing ability of NIF. These diagnostic systems are key in addressing measurement gaps in both ICF and assessment science mission space.

The diagnostics under development as part of the technology transfer effort will transform the understanding of high-pressure plasmas on the Z Facility and are important in determining the requirements for ignition and high yield on a future pulsed power driver.

The X-ray streak camera is used for laser performance verification experiments as well as a wide range of physics experiments in the areas of basic science.  The X-ray streak camera system was designed to record time-dependent X-ray emission from NIF targets using an interchangeable family of snouts for measurements such as one-dimensional spatial imaging or spectroscopy.

Experimentalists from two different labs are learning a lot about how Z machine works and its constraints as well as NIF machine and how to leverage NIF technology and what technologies are not amenable for transfer. Although the COVID-19 pandemic has caused several issues with the collaboration, both teams continue to work online for all of the design aspects.

U.S. researchers have been having several technological breakthroughs recently including the invention of the world’s fastest supercomputer. As reported by OpenGov Asia, The National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) today formally unveiled the first phase of its next-generation supercomputer, called Perlmutter. The new system will greatly increase the high-performance computing (HPC) capability for a broad spectrum of unclassified scientific research within the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science.

Perlmutter features a heterogeneous architecture that will provide four times the computational power currently available at NERSC for scientific simulation, data analysis, and artificial intelligence applications. It will enable a larger range of applications than previous NERSC systems and is the first NERSC supercomputer designed from the very beginning to meet the needs of both simulation and data analysis.

The Perlmutter system will play a key role in advancing scientific research in the U.S. and is front and centre in several critical technologies, including advanced computing, artificial intelligence, and data science. The system will also be heavily used in studies of the climate and the environment, clean energy technologies, semiconductors and microelectronics, and quantum information science.

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