Laser shocking of materials: Toward the national ignition facility
In recent years a powerful experimental tool has been added to the arsenal at the disposal of the materials scientist investigating materials response at extreme regimes of strain rates, temperatures, and pressures: laser compression. This technique has been applied successfully to mono-, poly-, and nanocrystalline metals and the results have been compared with predictions from analytical models and molecular dynamics simulations. Special flash x-ray radiography and flash x-ray diffraction, combined with laser shock propagation, are yielding the strength of metals at strain rates on the order of 107–108 s−1 and resolving details of the kinetics of phase transitions. A puzzling result is that experiments, analysis, and simulations predict dislocation densities that are off by orders of magnitude. Other surprises undoubtedly await us as we explore even higher pressure/strain rate/temperature regimes enabled by the National Ignition Facility.
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