Nuclear fusion is one of the most important process in the universe: it powers stars and is responsible for producing the elements we see around us. On Earth, it is being used to produce new elements and extend the periodic table.
In fusion two nuclei collide and combine to form a single composite nucleus. At low energies, the two nuclei must tunnel through a barrier created by the repulsive Coulomb and attractive nuclear potentials. During this process, the nuclei can become excited, changing tunnelling probabilities by orders of magnitude. Once the barrier has been tunnelled and the nuclear interaction is stronger, a very rapid dissipation of energy takes place, converting the kinetic energy of the collision into nucleonic excitations.The timescale of fusion is on the order one thousandth of a billionth of a billionth of a second.
Little is understood about the time dependence of this process. Current few-body approaches to fusion use static methods to calculate tunnelling probabilities and model energy dissipation artificially (e.g., with absorbing potentials).
The project will involve writing high performance computer code to simulate nuclear fusion using time-dependent coupled channels models. The time dependence of the calculations will give the ability to address questions such as: