Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering

First Advisor

Gennady Miloshevsky

Second Advisor

Karla Mossi

Third Advisor

Milos Manic


An exo-atmospheric nuclear detonation releases up to 80 percent of its’ energy as X-rays. Satellite’s solar cells and their protective coatings are vulnerable to low energy X-ray radiation. Cold X-rays (~1-1.5 keV) are absorbed close to the surface of materials causing the blow-off and rapid formation of Warm Dense Plasmas (WDPs), particularly in a gap between the unshielded active elements of solar cells. To understand how WDPs are created, it is necessary to investigate the power density distribution produced by cold X-rays for typical solar panel surface materials. The Monte Carlo stepping model implemented in the GEANT4 software toolkit is utilized to determine the power density created by cold X-rays in a multi-layered target composed of a layer of an active cell shielded by layers of cover glass and anti-reflective coating. The power density generated by cold X-rays in the unshielded semiconductor layer at different incidence angles is also investigated in order to account for different orientations of the satellite’s solar panels with respect to the point of nuclear detonation. The flux spectrum of X-rays originating from a nuclear blast is described by the Planck's blackbody function with the temperature from 0.1 keV to 10 keV. The secondary radiation (photo-electrons, fluorescence photons, Auger- and Compton-electrons) resulting from absorption and scattering of primary X-rays is taken into account in the redistribution of energy deposition within slabs. The profiles of power density within the slab system produced by primary cold X-rays, secondary photons and electrons are calculated as a function of depth. The discontinuity in power density profiles is observed at the interfaces of slabs due to discrete changes in stopping power between slab materials. The power density is found to be higher in slab materials with higher mass density. The power density profiles are then used in the atomistic Momentum Scaling Model (MSM) coupled with the Molecular Dynamics (MD) method (MSM-MD) to predict the spatiotemporal evolution of WDP in vacuum. The spatial and temporal distribution of density and temperature fields of expanding WDP is evaluated from the MSM-MD simulations. These modeling results provide insights into the underlining physics of the formation and spatiotemporal evolution of WDPs induced by cold X-rays.


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