Joe Branson

University Of York

I am studying for a PhD under the supervision of Erik Wagenaars.

The divertor region of tokamak plasmas is of critical importance for a fusion power plant since it is the region where the hot plasma from the core comes in contact with the walls of the vessel. To limit the heat and particle loads on the walls to an acceptable level, the plasma from the core needs to be cooled down.

This means that the plasma conditions in the divertor are very different from the hot core plasma; not only is the plasma temperature significantly lower, also the plasma is no longer fully ionised. Neutral hydrogen atoms and even molecules exist in these divertor plasmas making their behaviour more complex. These divertor plasma conditions are similar to the low-temperature plasmas that are routinely used in semiconductor industry for manufacturing of computer chips.

This experimental project intends to create a synergy between these plasma physics fields.  I will develop and use a laser Thomson scattering diagnostic for measuring electron properties in partially-ionised, molecular plasmas. In this way we can enhance our understanding of the plasma physics and chemistry of these plasmas which is essential for the development of better divertors for future fusion devices.