Speaker: Peter A Norreys
Professor of Inertial Fusion Science
Department of Physics, Clarendon Laboratory, University of Oxford
Central Laser Facility, STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory
William Penney Fellow, AWE
Inertial Fusion and Extreme Field Science
The historical ties between Oxford University and Los Alamos National Laboratory are deep and wide ranging. They were cemented during the Manhattan Project that culminated in the allies' victory in the Second World War. The Manhattan Project itself can arguably be traced back to the Frisch-Peierls memorandum of March 1940, the first time that a compact air-borne atomic weapon was conceived. It will be useful to remind ourselves of the rich scientific legacy of Sir Rudolf Peierls, in whose honor the Theoretical Physics sub-Department at Oxford is now named. It also true to say that physicists were also keen to see other peaceful applications developed for energetic neutrons produced during the fission process. Among them was that of neutron scattering as a tool for interrogating the structure of matter. Neutron scattering science was first pioneered using nuclear reactors by 1994 Nobel Prize winners Clifford Shull and Bertram Brockhouse. These studies were later augmented via spallation sources, and together they have made major contributions to present day understanding of condensed matter, biological and chemical systems. Another was the development of inertial confinement fusion and its application to carbon-free energy generation. Experiments at the National Ignition Facility are tantalizing close to entry into the burning plasma regime, but are hampered by the requirements for high implosion velocities, large in-flight aspect ratios as well as perturbations such as the tent and the fill tube. Together, they make the implosion more susceptible to hydrodynamic instabilities than might otherwise be the case. I will bring all of these topics together when I review research currently being undertaken in my group. These fall under three broad categories, namely routes to high gain for inertial fusion energy and future ultra-bright neutron scattering applications, including fast ignition and auxiliary heating of inertial fusion targets; ultra-bright X-ray generation with applications to attosecond science by combination of intense laser pulses, electron beams and X-ray Free Electron Lasers; extreme intensity interactions and novel absorption processes using next generation high power laser facilities.