MegaGauss : a portable 40T magnetic field generator

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Wisher, Matthew Louis

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Fusion neutrons from high energy density plasmas generated by pulsed laser irradiation of nanoscale atomic clusters have been explored in recent experiments at the University of Texas at Austin. A sufficiently strong (~200 T) magnetic field is expected to produce a magnetized, high temperature (10 keV) plasma with beta [approximately equal to] 1. Such a field along the laser axis may confine the plasma’s radial expansion, thus increasing fusion yield. As part of a multi-stage project to implement this experiment, a scaled (~40 T, ~500 KA) version of the final 200 T, 2.2 MA pulsed power device has been designed and built by Sandia National Laboratories and is now at UT-Austin. This apparatus, named MegaGauss, is meant to serve as a preparation tool for the 200 T system; as such, its current pulse was recorded for analysis, and is compared to a theoretical model to verify its response parameters (e.g. peak current, time to peak). Techniques and results of this comparison are discussed, followed by explanations of basic construction of the 40 T device and current sensing instrumentation. Discussion of MegaGauss is completed with a survey of notable failure modes, and a description of the often severe effects the miniature field-generating Helmholtz coil experiences due to the current pulse and magnetic field. Finally, a novel data archive scheme, structured around the familiar MDSplus archive system, is implemented in Labview and integrated into the main pulsed power control program. Specifically, methods for linking MDSplus’s robust functionality with Labview’s intuitive development environment are realized by means of a specialized software bridge between the two. These methods are used in software that allows MDSplus archives to be written and read exclusively through Labview.



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