X-ray scattering measurements of dissociation-induced metallization of dynamically compressed deuterium
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.1038/ncomms11189
Hydrogen, the simplest element in the universe, has a surprisingly complex phase diagram. Because of applications to planetary science, inertial confinement fusion and fundamental physics, its high-pressure properties have been the subject of intense study over the past two decades. While sophisticated static experiments have probed hydrogen's structure at ever higher pressures, studies examining the higher-temperature regime using dynamic compression have mostly been limited to optical measurement techniques. Here we present spectrally resolved x-ray scattering measurements from plasmons in dynamically compressed deuterium. Combined with Compton scattering, and velocity interferometry to determine shock pressure and mass density, this allows us to extract ionization state as a function of compression. The onset of ionization occurs close in pressure to where density functional theory-molecular dynamics (DFT-MD) simulations show molecular dissociation, suggesting hydrogen transitions from a molecular and insulating fluid to a conducting state without passing through an intermediate atomic phase.