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Washington State University Institute for Shock Physics

Research Associates

Benjamin Hammel

Postdoctoral Research Associate

(509) 355-7055

Scientific Interest and Work

Warm Dense Matter.

The study of warm dense matter (materials at solid density with temperatures 1 eV -100 eV) has gained considerable interest in recent years. The high-temperature and high-pressure chemistry which dictates the behavior of materials in this regime is expected to have significant implications for our understanding of the interiors of terrestrial planets, the ablation phase of inertial confinement fusion experiments, and the integrity of components essential to the stockpile stewardship program.

Dr. Ben Hammel is working closely with Dr. James Hawreliak to develop the capabilities necessary to perform reliable and detailed measurements in the WDM regime at the ISP. Initially, Dr. Hammel will be looking at the deviation of experimental measurements from the theoretical linear mixing models for hydrocarbons under shock compression to pressures at 4 Mbar. The atomic properties of the material investigated in this work will then be studied further at the new facilities brought online at the Dynamic Compression Sector of Argonne National Laboratory.


Dr. Hammel finished his Ph.D. at the University of Nevada – Reno in 2016. His primary research focus was on studying the total kinetic energy of the non-thermal electron component in pulsed power pinch-driven plasmas. Using the Nevada Terawatt Facility’s two-terawatt current generator, high-energy electron beams were created during the implosion of an X-pinch wire array. The impact of this beam onto a target of interest resulted in high-pressure shock waves from a direct-drive ablation mechanism. By comparing the experimental results of the measured shock wave velocity with computational simulations, an estimate for the possible total energy in the beam could be constrained.


Ph.D. Physics, 2016, University of Nevada at Reno
B.Sc. Physics, 2010, University of California at Santa Barbara

Representative Publications

  1. R. F. Smith, C. A. Bolme, D. J. Erskine, P. M. Celliers, S. Ali, J. H. Eggert, S. L. Brygoo, B. D. Hammel, J. Wang, and G. W. Collins, “Heterogeneous flow and brittle failure in shock-compressed silicon”, J. Appl. Phys. Vol. 114, Num. 13, pp 133504, 2013, doi:10.1063/1.4820927
  2. R.G. Kraus, S.T. Stewart, D.C. Swift, C.A. Bolme, R.F. Smith, S. Hamel, B.D. Hammel, D.K. Spaulding, D.G. Hicks, J.H. Eggert, G.W. Collins, “Shock Vaporization of Silica and the Thermodynamics of Planetary Impact Events”, Journal Of Geophysical Research, Vol. 117, E9, 2012, doi:10.1029/2012JE004082