Extended magnetohydrodynamics simulations of thin-foil Z-pinch implosions with comparison to experiments

Physics of Plasmas, Volume 27, Issue 9, September 2020. Cylindrical foil liners, with foil thicknesses on the order of 400 nm, are often used in university-scale Z-pinch experiments (∼1 MA in 100 ns) to study physics relevant to inertial confinement fusion efforts on larger-scale facilities (e.g., the magnetized liner inertial fusion effort on the 25-MA Z facility at Sandia National Laboratories). The use of ultrathin foil liners typically requires a central support rod to maintain the structural integrity of the liner target assembly prior to implosion. The radius of this support rod sets a limit on the maximum convergence ratio achievable for the implosion. In recent experiments with a support rod and a pre-imposed axial magnetic field, helical instability structures in the imploding foil plasma were found to persist as the foil plasma stagnated on the rod and subsequently expanded away from the rod [Yager-Elorriaga et al., Phys. Plasmas 25(5), 056307 (2018)]. We have now used the 3D extended magnetohydrodynamics simulation code PERSEUS (which includes Hall physics) [C. E. Seyler and M. R. Martin, Phys. Plasmas 18(1), 012703 (2011)] to study these experiments. The results suggest that it is the support rod that is responsible for the helical structures persisting beyond stagnation. Furthermore, we find that as the radius of the support rod decreases (i.e., as the convergence ratio increases), the integrity and persistence of the helical modes diminish. In the limit with no support rod, we find that the structure of the final stagnation column is governed by the structure of the central precursor plasma column. These simulation results and their comparisons to experiment are presented.