Author ORCID Identifier

Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Gennady Miloshevsky

Second Advisor

Karla Mossi

Third Advisor

Milos Manic


The use of a weaponized thermo-nuclear device in exo-atmospheric conditions would be of great impact on the material integrity of orbiting satellite infrastructure. Particular damage would occur to the multi-layered, solar cell components of such satellites. The rapid absorption of X-ray radiation originating from a nuclear blast into these layers occurs over a picosecond time scale and leads to the generation of Warm Dense Plasma (WDP). While incredibly difficult and costly to replicate in a laboratory setting, a collection of computational techniques and software libraries may be utilized to simulate the intricate atomic and subatomic physics characteristics of such an event. Use of the Monte Carlo sampling method within the Geant4 software library allows for the energy deposition and power density profiles by X-rays into this system to be determined. By understanding and modeling the different factors which can affect the absorption of thermonuclear X-ray radiation, specifically, “cold –X-ray radiation,” in the energy range of approximately 1 to 1.5 keV, the molecular dynamics modeling of WDP generation and evolution can be performed using the LAMMPS code library. One aspect modeled and utilized within this software is the Planck blackbody spectrum of X-rays, assumed to be emitted by the detonation. Another such factor explored is the effect of primary and secondary particle backscattering within the active solar cell layer. Ultimately, it was determined that the primary and secondary particle backscattering of photons and electrons occurs at such a relatively low rate that its effect on the properties of the generated WDP is negligible. Once the energy deposition and power density profiles are determined, LAMMPS is utilized in order to understand the spatio-temporal evolution of the WDP as well as the temperature, stress, and mass density distribution within the material, at its surface, and its immediate vacuum surroundings.


This research is sponsored by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, Grant No. DTRA1- 19-0019


© Harrison Cole Wenzel

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