Emission spectra and the dynamics of high energy density plasmas created by optical and Free Electron Lasers (FELs) depend on the populations of atomic levels. Calculations of plasma emission and ionization may be simplified by assuming Local Thermodynamic Equilibrium (LTE), where populations are given by the Saha-Boltzmann equation. LTE can be achieved at high densities when collisional processes are much more significant than radiative processes, but may not be valid if plasma conditions change rapidly. A collisional-radiative model has been used to calculate the times taken by carbon and iron plasmas to reach LTE at varying densities and heating rates. The effect of different energy deposition methods, as well as Ionization Potential Depression are explored. This work shows regimes in rapidly changing plasmas, such as those created by optical lasers and FELs, where the use of LTE is justified, because timescales for plasma changes are significantly longer than the times needed to achieve an LTE ionization balance.
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Research Article| June 05 2014
Local thermodynamic equilibrium in rapidly heated high energy density plasmas
V. Aslanyan, G. J. Tallents; Local thermodynamic equilibrium in rapidly heated high energy density plasmas. Phys. Plasmas 1 June 2014; 21 (6): 062702. https://doi.org/10.1063/1.4882235
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