Publications Repository - Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf

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Breaking the vicious cycle of warm dense matter diagnostics

Dornheim, T.


Matter at extreme densities and temperatures displays a complex quantum behavior that is characterized by Coulomb interactions, thermal excitations, and partial ionization. Such warm dense matter (WDM) is ubiquitous throughout the universe and occurs in a host of astrophysical objects such as giant planet interiors and white dwarf atmospheres. A particularly intriguing application is given by inertial confinement fusion, where both the fuel capsule and the ablator have to traverse the WDM regime in a controlled way to reach ignition.

In practice, rigorously understanding WDM is highly challenging both from experimental measurements and numerical simulations [1]. On the one hand, interpreting and diagnosing experiments with WDM requires a suitable theoretical description. One the other hand, there is no single method that is capable of accurately describing the full range of relevant densities and temperatures, and the interpretation of experiments is, therefore, usually based on a number of de-facto uncontrolled approximations. The result is the vicious cycle of WDM diagnostics: making sense of experimental observations requires theoretical modeling, whereas theoretical models must be benchmarked against experiments to verify their inherent assumptions.

In this work, we outline a strategy to break this vicious cycle by combining the X-ray Thomson scattering (XRTS) technique [2] with new ab initio path integral Monte Carlo (PIMC) capabilities [3,4,5]. As a first step, we have proposed to interpret XRTS experiments in the imaginary-time (Laplace) domain, which allows for the model-free diagnostics of the temperature [6] and normalization [7]. Moreover, by switching to the imaginary-time, we can directly compare our quasi-exact PIMC calculations with the experimental measurement [5]. This opens up novel ways to diagnose the experimental conditions, as we have recently demonstrated for the case of strongly compressed beryllium at the National Ignition Facility.

Our results open up new possibilities for improved XRTS set-ups that are specifically designed to be sensitive to particular parameters of interest [8]. Moreover, the presented PIMC capabilities are important in their own right and will allow for a gamut of applications, including equation-of-state calculations and the estimation of structural properties and linear response functions.

[1] T. Dornheim et al., Phys. Plasmas 30, 032705 (2023)
[2] S. Glenzer and R. Redmer, Rev. Mod. Phys. 81, 1625 (2009)
[3] T. Dornheim et al., J. Phys. Chem. Lett. 15, 1305-1313 (2024)
[4] T. Dornheim et al., arXiv:2403.01979
[5] T. Dornheim et al., arXiv:2402.19113
[6] T. Dornheim et al., Nature Commun. 13, 7911 (2022)
[7] T. Dornheim et al., arXiv:2305.15305
[8] Th. Gawne et al., arXiv:2403.02776

  • Lecture (others)
    Theory Seminar at Sandia National Laboratory, 20.03.2024, Albuquerque, USA