School Seminar Program

The physics of cold to burning plasmas

Matthew Hole

Dr Matthew Hole
Plasma Research Laboratory

Despite the growth in computer power, full particle simulation of plasmas remains computationally prohibitive. In its absence, magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) has become the “standard” model for plasmas. Despite the physics neglected by MHD, it has had surprising success in describing phenomena across a range of spatial, temporal and parameter scales, spanning low temperature industrial plasmas through to fusion plasmas and accretion discs.  The ongoing development of MHD and fluid models to capture important physics is a complex science challenge.  At the low temperature end, the inclusion of multiple species in rotating fluid models is required to describe the very different thermal and inertial properties of each particle.  In toroidal magnetic confinement significant non-thermal beam heating can introduce anisotropy and flow, while the deliberate or spontaneous introduction of asymmetric fields can introduce chaos. Finally, the increased diversity, accuracy and resolution of plasma diagnostics have driven new approaches to equilibrium reconstruction and validation, such as Bayesian inference. In this talk I will highlight research activity in the Plasma Theory and Modelling Group in modelling existing ANU and international experiments, and project research activity to address research challenges of ITER and future fusion power plants.

Dr Hole holds degrees in Physics, Mathematics and Electrical Engineering, and a PhD on plasma centrifuge physics from the University of Sydney. During 2001-2002 Dr Hole worked for the U.K. Atomic Energy Authority on fusion power on the innovative spherical tokamak concept. From 2003-2004 Dr Hole worked on space plasma physics at the University of Sydney, and since 2005, he has worked with Prof. Dewar of the Plasma Theory Modelling Group at ANU.  Dr Hole, an ARC Future Fellow, now leads the Plasma Theory and Modelling Group, and is the Chair of the Australian ITER Forum (, a growing consortium of over 150 scientists and engineers drawn from universities, government research laboratories, private industry and the general public. The Forum seeks to promote the science of fusion energy through advocacy of Australian involvement in the world's largest science project: the next step fusion energy experiment, ITER.

Refreshments will be held in the Tea Room after the Seminar (around 5pm)


Date & time

Thu 18 Apr 2013, 4–5pm


Leonard Huxley Lecture Theatre


Staff, students and public welcome