Ultrahigh axial magnetic fields have been compressed and measured in a gas-puff Z pinch. A 0·5-MA, 2–cm-radius annular gas-puff Z pinch with a 3-minute repetition rate was imploded radially onto an axial seed field, causing the field to compress. Axial magnetic field compressions up to 180 and peak magnetic fields up to 1·6 MG were measured. Faraday rotation of an argon laser (515·4 nm) in a quartz fiber on axis was the principal magnetic field diagnostic. Other diagnostics included a nitrogen laser interferometer, x-ray diodes, and magnetic field probes.
The magnetic field compression results are consistent with simple snowplow and self-similar analytic models, which are presented. The axial magnetic fields strongly affect the Z pinch dynamics. Even small axial fields help stabilize the pinches, some of which exhibit several stable radial bounces during a current pulse.
The method of compressing axial fields in a gas-puff Z pinch is extrapolable to the order of 100 MG. Scaling laws are presented. Potential applications of ultrahigh axial fields in Z pinches are discussed for x-ray lasers, inertial confinement fusion, and collimated sources of gamma radiation.