Ultrafast X-ray Thomson Scattering of Shock-Compressed Matter

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Science  03 Oct 2008:
Vol. 322, Issue 5898, pp. 69-71
DOI: 10.1126/science.1161466

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Spectrally resolved scattering of ultrafast K-α x-rays has provided experimental validation of the modeling of the compression and heating of shocked matter. The elastic scattering component has characterized the evolution and coalescence of two shocks launched by a nanosecond laser pulse into lithium hydride with an unprecedented temporal resolution of 10 picoseconds. At shock coalescence, we observed rapid heating to temperatures of 25,000 kelvin when the scattering spectra show the collective plasmon oscillations that indicate the transition to the dense metallic plasma state. The plasmon frequency determines the material compression, which is found to be a factor of 3, thereby reaching conditions in the laboratory relevant for studying the physics of planetary formation.

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