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Rev Sci Instrum. 2012 Oct;83(10):103901. doi: 10.1063/1.4754717.

Simplified laser-driven flyer plates for shock compression science.

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School of Chemical Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 600 S. Mathews Ave., Urbana, Illinois 61801, USA.


We describe a simplified system of laser-driven flyer plates for shock compression science and shock spectroscopy. We used commercially available one-box Nd:YAG lasers and beam homogenization solutions to create two launch systems, one based on a smaller (400 mJ) YAG laser and an inexpensive diffusive optic, and one based on a larger (2500 mJ) laser and a diffractive beam homogenizer. The flyer launch, flight, and impact processes were characterized by an 8 GHz fiberoptic photon Doppler velocimeter. We investigated effects of different substrates, adhesives, absorbers, ablative layers, and punching out disks from continuous foils versus fabricating individual foil disks, and found that a simple metal foil epoxied to a glass window was satisfactory in almost all cases. Our simplified system launched flyer plates with velocities up to 4.5 km s(-1) and kinetic energies up to 250 mJ that can drive sustained steady shocks for up to 25 ns. The factor that limits these velocities and energies is the laser fluence that can be transmitted through the glass substrate to the flyer surface without optical damage. Methods to increase this transmission are discussed. Reproducible flyer launches were demonstrated with velocity variations of 0.06% and impact time variations of 1 ns. The usefulness of this flyer plate system is demonstrated by Hugoniot equation of state measurements of a polymer film, emission spectroscopy of a dye embedded in the polymer, and impact initiation and emission spectroscopy of a reactive material consisting of nanoscopic fuel and oxidizer particles.


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