High energy density plasma simulations using ultracold neutral plasmas
Strongly-coupled Coulomb systems are typically fluid-like plasmas characterized by the ratio of the nearest-neighbor electrical potential energy to the average kinetic energy. When this ratio is near unity, the plasmas are non-ideal and the foundational assumptions of plasma physics are no longer valid. Astronomical examples include the crusts of white dwarf stars, the interior of Jovian planets, and the dust belts of Saturn. Laboratory examples include laser-driven compression shocks, exploding wires, inertially confined plasmas, and, surprisingly, photo-ionized laser-cooled atoms. Transport properties in these widely disparate plasmas scale with the ratio of potential-to-kinetic energy (the Coulomb coupling parameter). Even systems that are widely disparate in temperature and density can be thermodynamically similar if this ratio is the same. I'll talk about our work in photo-ionized laser-cooled atoms, presenting progress in thermalization, transport, and equilibration.