Understanding performance-limiting magnetohydrodynamics in spherical tokamaks (plasma strand project)

Supervisors: Philippa Browning (University of Manchester) and Chris Ham (CCFE)

The Spherical Tokamak device presents exciting prospects both for fundamental  research into the physics of fusion plasmas and as a future power plant. The MAST (Mega Amp Spherical Tokamak) at CCFE has recently undergone a major upgrade, and MAST-U will make significant input into the international fusion research programme.

It will be essential to understand, avoid, mitigate or control magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) instabilities in MAST-U so that the experiment can reach high performance, long pulse operation and fulfil its mission. This knowledge can then be applied to improved MAST-U scenarios and to design future spherical tokamaks.  The first part of the project will involve analysing data from MAST-U (for example, magnetics and Thomson scattering data) in order to identify which instabilities are important, such as the long lived mode or neoclassical tearing modes. Based on this, models will be developed using linear or nonlinear MHD codes, and benchmarked against the data. The modelling will be used to explore parameter regimes and determine how to mitigate or avoid the instabilities. The modelling may exploit, where relevant, synergies with solar MHD studies, for example, 3D simulations of nonlinear kink instabilities in solar flares undertaken by the Manchester supervisor.

Applicants should have a good Masters level degree (2:1 or above) in physics, mathematics or a related discipline.

The project will provide excellent skills training in programming and computer simulation.

There will be regular contact throughout between the student and the CCFE and Manchester supervisors. The student may also work with international collaborators such as NSTX-U in Princeton.

This project is offered by University of Manchester. For further information please contact: Professor Philippa Browning, Dept of Physics and Astronomy, University of Manchester (p.browning@manchester.ac.uk).

Please note that the deadline for applications for this project differs from the other plasma strand projects – the closing date for applications for this project is 28 February 2020.