Luke Thompson

University Of York

I graduated from Loughborough University with a BSc in Mathematics back in 2017, submitting my dissertation on “Optimal Route Across Hilly Terrain”. I then worked as a software developer in the insurance industry for a couple of years before scrapping the corporate life to continue pursuing academia, with the objective of doing something that suits my interest in visual, physical applications of mathematics as well as making a positive impact on the planet. This led me to pursue a PhD, in particular within the Fusion CDT due to the ever increasing need for alternative energy sources as our hunger for energy grows.

ELMs (edge-localised modes) are violent eruptions that occur at the edge of plasmas. If uncontrolled, they will cause excessive erosion on next step tokamaks; for example ITER will only be able to survive ~10 of the largest ELMs before the damage will put it out of action for extended maintenance. On ITER, it is planned to apply 3D magnetic perturbations as an approach to control these ELMs.

I will be working with the ELITE code – an ongoing collaboration between the University of York and General Atomics, recently extended to calculate the plasma response to these 3D magnetic perturbations and the resulting 3D equilibrium.

My research will have a focus on “3D Effects on Tokamak Plasma Stability” and will be supervised by Prof. Howard Wilson. In particular some of my objectives are;
-Benchmarking the new 3D ELITE code against other approaches.
-Using ELITE in order to develop an understanding of how ELMs and the pedestal region are influenced by 3D effects.
-Further extending the model to include non-ideal effects such as plasma resistivity.
-Explore the effects of a conducting wall around the plasma.
-Explore the consequences for equilibria characteristic of the STEP and ITER plasmas.

Research into these areas is extremely important as it will allow us to better understand how to control or avoid ELMs, which is vital for the lifespan of next step tokamaks and hence development of fusion energy.