Controlled magnetic confinement fusion offers the possibility of an inexhaustible supply of energy with zero greenhouse gas emissions. At the very high temperatures needed to initiate a fusion reaction, the fuel exists in the plasma state. Fusion energy research is now poised to advance rapidly due to a large international investment (~$20 billion) in the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor. ITER, with a power gain of over five, will explore the uncharted physics of burning plasmas, in which the energy liberated from the confined fusion products of reaction exceeds the energy invested in heating the plasma. As fusion products slow by collisions with the bulk, they can drive a range of wave-modes, some of which are deleterious to confinement. A full understanding of these wave-modes requires fluid modelling of the plasma (e.g. MHD) to compute wave modes, a kinetic treatment of ion motion, to compute weave-particle resonance, and comparison to experimental observations in a well-determined magnetic configuration.
In this project the wave-particle resonance condition will be computed for a range of precomputed particle orbits (and orbit populations), which initially were computed for transport studies. An estimate of wave-drive due to spatial gradients will be afforded using wave functions from an ideal MHD stability analysis and orbit population information. Predictions of wave amplitude will be compared measured wave activity from magnetic pick-up coil and spectroscopic fluctuation diagnostics.
The project complements active research on burning plasma physics, and builds on collaborations with the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy and Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics.
Interest in sustainable energy technology solutions, a sound understanding of electromagnetic theory, and good analytic and numeric skills.
Skills and understanding developed in the project offer the student an entry to the field of fusion energy research and laboratory plasma physics, and are portable to space and solar physics, and astrophysics.