Laser and Particle Beams


Z pinches—A historical view

R.B.  SPIELMAN  a1 c1 and J.S.  DE GROOT  a2
a1 Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, NM 87185-1194, USA
a2 Department of Applied Science and Plasma Research Group, University of California, Davis, Davis, CA 95616, USA


Z pinches have a long and varied history. Beginning in the 18th century, z pinches have been used to heat plasmas very efficiently. Early in the nuclear fusion program, it was realized that modest currents are required to confine plasma that could produce energy gain. The instability of the confined plasma was convincingly demonstrated in experiments in the 1950s that were performed around the world. These uniformly negative results led to z pinches being dropped as a fusion concept. Recent progress in fast z pinches has reinvigorated the field. We review the field and highlight the recent advances that point the way to a bright future for z pinches.

(Received May 22 2000)
(Accepted April 20 2001)

c1 Address correspondence and reprint requests to: R.B. Spielman, MS-1194, P.O. Box 5800, Albuquerque, NM 87185-1194, USA. E-mail: