Sandia National Laboratories researcher Daniel Sinars demonstrates the setup he and his team created to peer into the center of Sandia’s Z machine at the moment of firing. The crystal under his finger is attached to portions of a Z target configuration. (Photo by Randy Montoya)
Peering into the center of Sandia National Laboratory’s Z machine as it fires had been a feat unachievable for a decade.
Other than a nuclear bomb, Z is the most powerful generator of X-rays on the planet. Last year, its central mechanism, called a Z-pinch, fused isotopes of hydrogen to create nuclear fusion. Now, by inserting a pretty, two-inch-long crystal that reflects at only a single frequency into the hellish center of Z as it fires, researchers have been able to visually filter out the bedlam of more than 99 percent of the energies generated.
By shining the energy from a relatively weak laser beam through the machine and reflecting it off the crystal to a detector, the researchers have emerged with a series of pictures of the machine’s key process -- the dissolution of a wire cage (about the size of a spool of thread) into ionized gas particles. By viewing the dissolution nanosecond by nanosecond, Z experimentalists can see more rapidly and accurately how to improve the final output.
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A newly developed laser technology has enabled physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (jointly run by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics) to generate attosecond bursts of high-energy photons of unprecedented intensity. This has made it possible to observe the interaction of multiple photons in a single such pulse with electrons in the inner orbital shell of an atom.
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A group of researchers led by Andrea Cavalleri at the Max Planck Institute for Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) in Hamburg has demonstrated a new method enabling precise measurements of the interatomic forces that hold crystalline solids together. The paper Probing the Interatomic Potential of Solids by Strong-Field Nonlinear Phononics, published online in Nature, explains how a terahertz-frequency laser pulse can drive very large deformations of the crystal.
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For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.
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