Alison Saunders

  • Program Year: 3
  • Academic Institution: University of California, Berkeley
  • Field of Study: Warm Dense Matter
  • Academic Advisor: Roger Falcone
  • Practicum(s):
    Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (2017)
  • Degree(s):
    B.S. Physics, Reed College, 2011

Summary of Research

Warm dense matter is a material of interest to many scientific fields due to its diverse applications, including stellar physics, inertial confinement fusion, and planetary science. I study warm dense matter through x-ray scattering experiments at the user facilities of Omega, NIF, and LCLS. The experiments involve heating a sample, e.g. beryllium or carbon, either directly or indirectly to high temperatures and pressures, and then performing measurements such as x-ray Thompson scattering, x-ray diffraction, and x-ray absorption. The measurements tell us of the temperature, density, and ionization state of the plasma, as well as the ionic and electronic structures, which shed light onto the properties of the material in this high temperature and density regime. There is still a lack of consensus in the theory community as to what the driving parameters are in x-ray scattering from warm dense matter, as the strongly-coupled nature of warm dense matter allows for few of the commonly made plasma approximations. It is the hope of the experimental community that more experiments at state-of-the-art facilities will help shed light on the underlying physics in this complicated regime. My primary goal is to use modeling tools to analyze experimental data; this in turn allows us to learn more about the science underlying the modeling and potentially help improve the modeling, as well as enhancing understanding about how the experimental data connects with the theory. By better understanding the data from warm dense matter experiments, we will better understand the path to inertial confinement fusion, as well as learn more about the interior of planets and white dwarfs. Warm dense matter is exciting field of study that provides many new avenues to learn about cutting-edge physics.


A. M. Saunders, D. A. Chapman, D. O. Gericke, S. H. Glenzer, A. L. Kritcher, O. L. Landen, M. Schoff, C. Shuldberg, R. W. Falcone, T. Doeppner. Influence of argon impurities on the elastic scattering of x-rays from imploding beryllium capsules. To be submitted to HEDP (2017).

S. Frydrych, J. Vorberger, N. J. Hartley, A. M. Saunders, T. van Driel, R. W. Falcone, L. B. Fletcher, E. Galtier, E. J. Gamboa, D. O. Gericke, S. H. Glenzer, E. Granados, M. J. MacDonald, A. J. MacKinnon, E. E. McBride, I. Nam, P. Neumayer, A. Pak, P. Sun, M. Roth, T. Doeppner, D. Kraus. Demonstration of X-ray Thomson scattering as diagnostic for species separation in warm dense matter. To be submitted to Phys. Rev. Lett. (2018).

D. Kraus, N. J. Hartley, S. Frydrych,4, A. K. Schuster, K. Rohatsch, S. Brown, T. E. Cowan, E. Cunningham, S. J. Demaio-turner, T. van Driel, L. B. Fletcher, E. Galtier, E. J. Gamboa, A. Laso Garcia, D. O. Gericke, E. Granados, P. A. Heimann, H. J. Lee, M. J. MacDonald, A. J. MacKinnon, E. E. McBride, I. Nam, P. Neumayer, A. Pak, A. Pelka,e I. Prencipe, A. Ravasio, R. Redmer, M. Roedel, A. M. Saunders, M. Schoelmerich, M. Schoerner, P. Sun, R. W. Falcone, S. H. Glenzer, T. Doeppner, and J. Vorberger. High-pressure chemistry of hydrocarbons relevant to planetary interiors and inertial confinement fusion. Submitted to Phys. of Plas. (2017).

O. R. Hoidn, R. A. Valenza, G. T. Seidler, A. S. Ditter, W. M. Holden, E. P. Jahrmann, S. M. Vinko, J. J. Kas, F. D. Vila, A. M. Saunders, L. M. Avila, G. C. O’Neil, H. J. Lee, B. Nagler. Electronic structure effects in crystalline tepid dense matter. To be submitted to Phys. Rev. B. (2017).

D. Kraus, J. Vorberger, A. Pak, N. J. Hartley, L. B. Fletcher, S. Frydrych, E. Galtier, E. J. Gamboa, D. O. Gericke, S. H. Glenzer, E. Granados, M. J. MacDonald, A. J. MacKinnon, E. E. McBride, I. Nam, P. Neumayer, M. Roth, A. M. Saunders, A. K. Schuster, P. Sun, T. van Driel, T. Doeppner, R. W. Falcone. Formation of diamonds in laser-compressed hydrocarbons at planetary interior conditions. Nat. Astron. 1, 606-611 (2017).

F. Albert, N. Lemos, J. L. Shaw, B. B. Pollock, C. Goyon, W. Schumaker, A. M. Saunders, K. A. Marsh, A. Pak, J. E. Ralph, J. L. Martins, L. D. Amorim, R. W. Falcone, S. H. Glenzer, J. D. Moody, C. Joshi. Observation of betatron x-ray radiation in a self-modulated laser wakefield accelerator driven with picosecond laser pulses. Phys. Rev. Lett. 118, 134801 (2017).

A M. Saunders, A. Jenei, T. Doeppner, R. W. Falcone, D. Kraus, A. Kritcher, O. L. Landen, J. Nilsen, D. Swift. X-ray Thomson scattering measurements from hohlraum-drive spheres on the OMEGA laser. Rev. Sci. Inst. 80, 11E724 (2016).

T. Doeppner, D. Kraus, P. Neumayer, B. Bachmann, J. Emig, R. W. Falcone, L. B. Fletcher, M. Hardy, D. H. Kalantar, A. L. Kritcher, O. L. Landen, T. Ma, A. M. Saunders, R. D. Wood. Improving a high-efficiency, gated spectrometer for x-ray Thomson scattering experiments at the National Ignition Facility. Rev. Sci. Inst. 87, 11E515 (2016).

D. Kraus, T. Doeppner, A. L. Kritcher, A. Yi, K. Boehm, B. Bachmann, L. Divol, L. B. Fletcher, S. H. Glenzer, O. L. Landen, N. Masters, A. M. Saunders, C. Weber, R. W. Falcone, P. Neumayer. Platform for spectrally resolved x-ray scattering from imploding capsules at the National Ignition Facility. J. Phys. Conf. Ser. 717, 012067 (2016).

L. Illing, A. M. Saunders, and D. Hahs. Multi-parameter identification from scalar time series generated by a Malkus-Lorenz water wheel. Chaos 22 013127 (2012).

L. Illing, R. F. Fordyce, A. M. Saunders, and R. Ormond. Experiments with a Malkus- Lorenz water wheel: Chaos and Synchronization. Am. J. Phys. 80 (3), 192 (2012).


IFSA 2017 Ph.D. Poster Prize, Saint Malo, France, 2017
High Power Laser Workshop 2016 Ph.D. Poster Prize, SLAC, Menlo Park, CA, 2016
DOE NNSA Science Stewardship Graduate Fellowship, 2015 - present
Leo Falicov Graduate Student Fellowship for Physics Excellence, 2013 - present
Reed Commendation for Academic Excellence 2009-2010
Reed Commendation for Academic Excellence 2008-2009