Matter at extreme temperatures and pressures—commonly known as warm dense matter (WDM)—is ubiquitous throughout our Universe and occurs in astrophysical objects such as giant planet interiors and brown dwarfs. Moreover, WDM is very important for technological applications such as inertial confinement fusion and is realized in the laboratory using different techniques. A particularly important property for the understanding of WDM is given by its electronic density response to an external perturbation. Such response properties are probed in x-ray Thomson scattering (XRTS) experiments and are central for the theoretical description of WDM. In this work, we give an overview of a number of recent developments in this field. To this end, we summarize the relevant theoretical background, covering the regime of linear response theory and nonlinear effects, the fully dynamic response and its static, time-independent limit, and the connection between density response properties and imaginary-time correlation functions (ITCF). In addition, we introduce the most important numerical simulation techniques, including path-integral Monte Carlo simulations and different thermal density functional theory (DFT) approaches. From a practical perspective, we present a variety of simulation results for different density response properties, covering the archetypal model of the uniform electron gas and realistic WDM systems such as hydrogen. Moreover, we show how the concept of ITCFs can be used to infer the temperature from XRTS measurements of arbitrary complex systems without the need for any models or approximations. Finally, we outline a strategy for future developments based on the close interplay between simulations and experiments.

This paper was not sponsored or directly supported by First Light Fusion. This was an external project to which members of our team made collaborative contributions.

© 2023 Authors, Physics of Plasma, Vol. 30, Article ID 5.0139560, 2023; licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (


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