U.S. Particle Accelerator School

Physics and Technology of Z-Pinches course

Sponsoring University:

University of California, Berkeley


Physics and Technology of Z-Pinches


David Mosher, NRL

High-atomic-number z-pinch plasmas created from megampere discharges in fine wires and gas columns have been of interest for about 25 years as powerful laboratory sources of soft x-radiation. This course surveys the development of z-pinches from conventional, hydrogenic discharges, originally studied for magnetic confinement fusion, to those presently of interest to inertial-confinement fusion, defense, and commercial applications. Fundamental plasma- and atomic-physics concepts are provided and the equilibria, dynamics, and stability of z-pinches are studied with appropriate levels of theoretical description. Experiments involving single-wire and annular-imploding z-pinch-plasma radiation sources (PRS) are reviewed and analyzed with simple models. Examples of the terawatt-level pulsed-power generators used to drive the PRS are presented. This course will provide a basic physical understanding of the field and an appreciation of outstanding technical issues. A working knowledge of classical mechanics and electromagnetic theory is required.