Prof. Katz has been developing experiments to measure plasma diffusion coefficients. These coefficients are difficult to calculate and have not been measured. Using an intense laser pulse to heat plasma it is possible to measure the diffusivity of the three isotopes of hydrogen into each other. For example, using films of ordinary and deuterated polyethylene in contact their diffusivity can be measured by measuring the quantity of HD (vs. H_2 and D_2) in the cooled and expanded debris. The diffusivity at temperatures of tens of millions of degrees can be measured, using yet more intense laser pulses (such as those produced at the National Ignition Facility), with contacting films of deuterated and tritiated polyethylene, by counting the number of energetic neutrons produced by the nuclear reaction of deuterium and tritium.
Prof. Katz has developed and carried out, in collaboration with a team at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, an experiment to measure the suppression of Kelvin-Helmholtz and Plateau-Rayleigh instabilities in counterflowing fluids. These instabilities are the likely reason the attempted "top-kill" of the blown out Macondo oil well in the Gulf of Mexico failed. Theory and experiment show that the addition of a dilatant polymer (corn starch) to an aqueous drilling "mud" can render it sufficiently sherar-thickening to suppress instability. Had this been done, or if it is done in any future blow-out, the catastrophic escape of crude oil might be choked off earlier.