Production of energetic protons, deuterons, and neutrons up to 60 MeV via disruption of a current-carrying plasma column at 3 MA

D. Klir, A. V. Shishlov, V. A. Kokshenev, S. L. Jackson, K. Rezac, R. K. Cherdizov, J. Cikhardt, G. N. Dudkin, F. I. Fursov, J. Krasa, J. Kravarik, P. Kubes, N. E. Kurmaev, V. Munzar, N. A. Ratakhin, K. Turek, V. A. Varlachev

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Acceleration of ions to multi-MeV energies is investigated in various plasma devices to better understand processes in astrophysical plasmas and to develop efficient accelerators for a variety of applications. This paper reports the production of proton, deuteron, and electron beams in a z-pinch - a cylindrically symmetric plasma column that is compressed by its own magnetic field. For this work, the GIT-12 pulsed-power generator was used to drive a novel configuration of z-pinch that dramatically enhanced ion acceleration associated with disruption of the current by instabilities in the compressed plasma. During the disruption of 3 MA current, hydrogen ions were accelerated up to at least 50 MeV, which is almost a hundred-times the ion energy provided by the generator driving voltage of 0.6 MV. Under optimal conditions, the total numbers of hydrogen ions with energies above 20 and 50 MeV were 4 1013 and 1011, respectively. Accelerated deuterons produced one 20 ns (full width at half maximum) pulse of fast neutrons via D(d, n)3He and other nuclear reactions. A maximum neutron output of (1.0 0.2) 1012 neutrons/sr was observed downstream, i.e., in the anode to cathode direction. In this direction, the maximum neutron energy reached 58 7 MeV. Both ion and neutron beams in our experiment reached an end-point energy of about 60 MeV, which is the highest value observed in pulsed-power devices. A localized peak voltage of ⪆60 MV was driven by the inductive energy that was stored around the plasma column and that was extracted during a sub-nanosecond current drop. Considering the natural occurrence of current-carrying columns in laboratory and space plasmas, the current interruption observed in z-pinches could represent a more general physical process that contributes to the efficient conversion of magnetic energy into the energy of particle beams in various plasmas.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103036
JournalNew Journal of Physics
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020


  • accelerator
  • current disruption
  • plasma device
  • plasma instabilities
  • plasma opening switch
  • power multiplication
  • z-pinch

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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