On January 1st, two Sandians, Mike Cuneo (Pulsed Power Accelerator S&T Group) and Igal Brener (Applied Photonic Microsystems), were elected Fellows of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). Mike was selected for “developments in inertial confinement fusion with magnetically driven implosions and electrode cleaning.” The number of Fellows chosen annually is restricted to less than one-tenth of 1% of IEEE’s voting membership (~400,000 in 160 countries). IEEE has developed more than 900 active industry standards and sponsors ~400 annual conferences.

Sandia's Mike Cuneo.

Sandia’s Mike Cuneo.

Mike worked first with ion-beam diodes (1989–1997), and subsequently with wire-array X-ray sources (1998–2006). The research efforts to which he contributed include power flow, ion diodes, ion sources, electrode plasma characterization and mitigation, z-pinch-driven direct- and indirect-drive capsule implosions for Inertial Confinement Fusion (ICF), wire-array z-pinch physics of soft X-ray sources, magnetically driven direct-drive implosions for ICF, and synergies of ICF work to cold and warm K-shell X-ray sources (which are the most energetic) for radiation-effects science testing on Z.

In magnetically driven inertial fusion, Mike made two key contributions. He experimentally realized a novel concept, the double-ended hohlraum (DEH) radiation source, for Sandia’s Z pulsed power facility. (A hohlraum is the equivalent of a small oven for containing and focusing X-ray radiation onto an ICF target.) Subsequently, his experiments with wire-array z-pinch X-ray sources used for the DEH led to a comprehensive understanding of the physics of single and nested wire-array implosions at high current.

A single-sided power feed double-ended hohlraum radiation source.

A single-sided power feed double-ended hohlraum radiation source.

The work served as an organizing principle for a broadly influential area of pulsed power, stimulating more than 45 refereed journal articles from other researchers that have been cited more than 1,000 times. Mike also developed electrode-cleaning techniques to mitigate anode and cathode plasma formation in pulsed-power devices. Such formation places fundamental limits on electron-beam and ion-beam diode performance, as well as on other high-voltage devices. Mike performed seminal research that showed that the effects of plasmas formed from contaminants on ion diode performance could be significantly reduced using in situ electrode cleaning techniques. Sensitivity to electrode contamination and mitigation by electrode cleaning are now part of the broader tool kit of all pulsed-power scientists.

Mike has authored or co-authored more than 150-refereed papers, including three invited topical reviews, with 18 in the premier physics journal Physical Review Letters. He was manager of radiation and fusion experiments from 2007–2013, significantly improving the foundations for radiation-effects source development and testing on Z, and for intra-lab collaborations on radiation effects. He is currently senior manager of the Pulsed Power Accelerator Science and Technology group. Says Mike, “The award is ultimately a recognition of the research environment, talented people, and two decades of achievement of Sandia’s entire pulsed power center, which depends on the collaboration of large teams of scientists, engineers, and technicians.”