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Inelastic X-ray Scattering Measurements of Ionization in Warm, Dense Matter


In this work we demonstrate spectrally resolved x-ray scattering from electron-plasma waves in shock-compressed deuterium and proton-heated matter. Because the spectral signature of inelastic x-ray scattering is strongly dependent on the free electron density of the system, it is used to infer ionization in dynamically heated samples. Using 2-6 ns, 500 J laser pulses from LLNL's Janus laser, we shocked liquid deuterium to pressures approaching 50 GPa, reaching compressions of 4 times liquid density. A second laser produced intense 2 keV x-rays. By collecting and spectrally dispersing forward scattered photons at 45 degrees, the onset of ionization was detected at compressions of about 3 times in the form of plasmon oscillations. Backscattered x-rays bolstered this observation by measuring the free electron distribution through Compton scattering. Comparison with simulations shows very close agreement between the pressure dependence of ionization and molecular dissociation in dynamically compressed deuterium.

In a second set of experiments, a 10 ps, 200 J Titan laser pulse was split into two beams. One created a stream of MeV protons to heat samples of boron and boron-nitride and the other pumped 4.5 keV K-alpha radiation in a titanium foil to probe the hot target. We observed scattered x-rays 300 ps after heating, noting a strong difference in average ionization between the two target materials at temperatures of 16 eV and very similar mass densities. Comparison with electron structure calculations suggests that this difference is due to a persistence of long-range ion structure in BN resulting in high-temperature band structure.

These results underscore the importance of understanding the complex electron structure of materials even at electron-volt temperatures and gigapascal pressures. Our results provide new data to guide the theoretical modeling of warm, dense matter important to understanding giant planets and inertial fusion targets.

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