Researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have developed an X-ray source that can be used to determine the temperature in probe experiments under conditions found at the very center of planets. 

Announced in Applied Physics Letters, the titanium x-ray source will be used to perform fine structure experiments on highly compressed solid-state materials at the National Ignition Facility.

Andy Krygier, LLNL physicist and lead author of the article, said researchers found that titanium foils produced 30 times more continuum X-rays in the spectral range of interest to researchers than implosion capsule backlighters and two to four times more than gold foils under identical conditions. 

He said the primary goal of the experiments is to determine the temperature of various materials at a million times atmospheric pressure, conditions like those found at the very center of planets.

Krygier said the discovery would allow LLNL to conduct measurements “over a wide range of materials and conditions that were not previously possible at any facility in the world.” Solid-state materials can display wildly different properties under immense pressure than they do at ambient conditions.