Imperial College London


Faculty of Natural SciencesDepartment of Physics

Professor of Plasma Physics



+44 (0)20 7594 7650sn.bland




746Blackett LaboratorySouth Kensington Campus





Pulsed power driven High Energy Density Physics

High Energy Density Physics (HEDP) studies the behaviour of matter in extremes of temperature, density and pressure, conditions under which current physical models are often ‘under-described''. Such conditions bridge the gap between traditional plasma physics and astrophysics research; and with the commissioning of several new international facilities experiments that examine topics including the highly radiative shock waves produced by supernova, the equation-of-state of material in planetary cores and the compression and heating of Inertial Confinement Fusion (ICF) fuel capsules are now being carried out.

Research on the MAGPIE pulsed power facility at Imperial College has demonstrated that wires array z-pinches (cylindrical arrangements of fine metallic wires, subject to millions of amps of current in 100s of nanoseconds) provide a highly versatile source of both plasma and X-rays which may be used to examine a variety of HEDP phenomena. The parameters accessible using wire arrays complement those achievable at larger facilities, adding to our knowledge and allowing theory and simulation to be extended into new regimes.

Amongst other topics my colleagues and I examine:

  • Methods to optimise and shape X-ray emission from wire arrays for inertial confinemnt fusion research
  • Ways to focus this emission into small hohlraums to increase the temperatures available for driving HEDP experiments
  • New methods for measuring the opacity of high Z materials for stellar atmosphere research
  • Ways of launching plasma jets that can be scaled to those seen emitting from stars and galaxies
  • The production of large scale radiatting shock waves and their interaction with matter
  • The compression of matter to hundreds of thousands of bars of pressure


For the last 3 years I have split his time between the Plasma Physics Group and the Institute of Shock Physics (ISP). Here my work involved devloping new velocimetry diagnostics and a new type of pulsed power generator for experiments to produce isentropic or ''shockless'' compression of materials. This new generator, named MACH, will be coming online later in 2012.



Dr David Ampleford, Sandia National Laboratories

Prof Kuan Hiang Kwek, University of Malaya

Prof Bruce Kusse, Cornell University

Dr Michael Cuneo, Sandia National Laboratories

Adam Harvey-Thompson, Sandia National Laboratories

Dr John Greenly, Cornell University

Dr Herve Calamy, Centre d’Etudes de Gramat

Prof David Hammer, Cornell University

Guest Lectures

High Pressure EOS research, Imperial College Plasma Physics Group, 2012

Pulsed Power Driven High Energy Density Physics, Imperial College Physoc, 2012

Shocks and Squeezes in Solids, Imperial College, 2012

Pulsed Power driven Shock Physics Experiments at Imperial College, Cambridge University, 2011

Pulsed Power Driven Shock Physics Experiments at Imperial College, AWE Aldermaston, 2010

Z-pinches for Fusion, University of York, 2010

Research Student Supervision