Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Z machine melts diamond to puddle

As capsule for nuclear-fusion fuel, even diamonds aren't forever

Sandia's Z machine, by creating pressures more than 10 million times that of the atmosphere at sea level, has turned a diamond sheet into a pool of liquid.

The object of the experiment was to better understand the characteristics of diamond under the extreme pressure it would face when used as a capsule for a BB-sized pellet intended to fuel a nuclear fusion reaction.

The experiment is another step in the drive to release enough energy from fused atoms to create unlimited electrical power for humanity. Control of this process has been sought for 50 years.

Half a bathtub full of seawater in a fusion reaction could produce as much energy as 40 train cars of coal.

Results of the fusion reaction also will be used to validate physics models in computer simulations used to certify the safety and reliability of the US nuclear weapons stockpile.

Sandia is a National Nuclear Security Administration facility.

The problem for two giant machines that would use this method -- the National Ignition Facility in Lawrence Livermore National Lab, which asked for the experiment, and Sandia's Z machine -- is that the outer shell of the pellet must transmit pressure evenly into its interior. Diamond as a solid will do that. Diamond as a liquid will do that. But diamond that is partially both and exists between 6.9 million atmospheres and 10.4 million atmospheres provides uneven pressures. This in-between phase would create instabilities that would ruin the implosion, like a hand squeezing a water balloon that allows portions of the balloon to exit through spaces between the fingers.

So, if diamond is used as a capsule, the energies involved must be tailored to avoid landing in this zone.

Why use diamond at all? It was hoped that diamond would help smooth out the applied pressure loads and keep the capsule implosion symmetric.

Wouldn't a more flexible material like vinyl be better?

"At the pressures we're interested in, everything is compressible," said capsule designer Mark Herrmann, a Sandia researcher.

Because of limited time to run the experiments, due to the shutdown of Z for renovations that should increase its power by 30 percent, Sandia lead experimenter Marcus Knudson found a predictive use of a quantum-molecular simulation program developed at Sandia by Mike Desjarlais very helpful in pinpointing the pressures at which diamond would begin and finish liquefying.

In the experiments, the applied pressure came from shock waves passing through the diamond. The waves were created by impacting the diamond with tiny plates hurled using Z's huge magnetic fields at about 20 times the speed of a rifle bullet.

The results were the subject of an invited talk given this week at the American Physical Society's Division of Plasma Physics in Philadelphia.

Neal Singer | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Move over, lasers: Scientists can now create holograms from neutrons, too
21.10.2016 | National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

nachricht Finding the lightest superdeformed triaxial atomic nucleus
20.10.2016 | The Henryk Niewodniczanski Institute of Nuclear Physics Polish Academy of Sciences

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>