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Quantum-mechanical calculation of ionization potential lowering in dense plasmas
Sang-Kil Son, Robert Thiele, Zoltan Jurek, Beata Ziaja, and Robin SantraPhys. Rev. X 4, 031004 (2014)
The charged environment within a dense plasma leads to the phenomenon of ionization potential depression (IPD) for ions embedded in the plasma. Accurate predictions of the IPD effect are of crucial importance for modeling atomic processes occurring within dense plasmas. Several theoretical models have been developed to describe the IPD effect, with frequently discrepant predictions. Only recently, first experiments on IPD in Al plasma have been performed with an x-ray free-electron laser (XFEL), where their results were found to be in disagreement with the widely-used IPD model by Stewart and Pyatt. Another experiment on Al, at the Orion laser, showed disagreement with the model by Ecker and Kröll. This controversy shows a strong need for a rigorous and consistent theoretical approach to calculate the IPD effect. Here we propose such an approach: a two-step Hartree-Fock-Slater model. With this parameter-free model we can accurately and efficiently describe the experimental Al data and validate the accuracy of standard IPD models. Our model can be a useful tool for calculating atomic properties within dense plasmas with wide-ranging applications to studies on warm dense matter, shock experiments, planetary science, inertial confinement fusion and studies of non-equilibrium plasmas created with XFELs.
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