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York Plasma Institute - Staff, Postdocs and Postgraduate Students

People pages

Academic Staff and Research Fellows

 Istvan Cziegler photo

Dr Istvan Cziegler

Lecturer

 
James Dedrick

Dr James Dedrick

Funded logo self funded logo

Lecturer  
 Dr David Dickinson Dr David Dickinson

CDT Deputy Programme Director & Senior Admissions Tutor
Lecturer

 
Staff Profile Professor Kieran Gibson Head of Department of Physics, Engerneering and Technology
Professor
 
Andrew Higginbotham 

Dr Andrew Higginbotham

Senior Lecturer

 
Staff Profile

Dr Peter Hill
(peter.hill@york.ac.uk)

EPSRC Research Software Engineering Fellow.

 

Dr Kate Lancaster 

 

Senior Lecturer

 
Professor Bruce Lipschultz Professor  
Staff Profile Dr Clement Moissard Associate Lecturer  
Chris Murphy Dr Chris Murphy

Senior Lecturer

 
John Pasley Dr John Pasley Senior Lecturer  
Geoff Pert Professor Geoff Pert Emeritus Professor  
Chris Ridgers Professor Christopher Ridgers

Director, York Plasma Institute

 
Greg Tallents

Professor Greg Tallents

(Retired)

Coordinator of LPI research,
Professor
 
Roddy Vann Professor Roddy Vann

CDT Programme Director
Professor

 
Erik Wagenaars

Dr Erik Wagenaars

  

YPI Laboratory Director and Senior Lecturer  
Staff Profile  Professor Howard Wilson
CDT Principal Investigator,
Professor
 
Nigel Woolsey Professor Nigel Woolsey Chair of Board of Studies, MSc Course Director,
Professor
 

Support Staff

 Profile picture Mrs Donna Cook
donna.cook@york.ac.uk
EU Research & Fusion CDT Project Manager
Staff Profile 

Mrs Ella Eyre

ella.eyre@york.ac.uk

Fusion Industry School Manager & CDT Administrator
Photo of Hillary Marshall

Mrs Hillary Marshall

hillary.marshall@york.ac.uk

YPI and CDT Administrator
Staff Profile

Mrs Katy Welford

katy.welford@york.ac.uk

YPI and CDT Administrator
  Mrs Ruth Lowman
ruth.lowman@york.ac.uk
YPI and CDT Administrative Coordinator
Kari Niemi Dr Kari Niemi
kari.niemi@york.ac.uk
Research Officer
CDT Phd Student 

Andrew Malcolm-Neale

a.malcolmneale@york.ac.uk

Research Technician 

Post-Doctoral Researchers

 

Profile Picture

Dr Christopher Arran

christopher.arran@york.ac.uk

 


I use high-intensity laser experiments to explore fundamental physics under strong electric and magnetic fields, such as the recoil of particles during the emission of radiation, and the production of matter and antimatter from light. These effects are thought to exist in some of the most extreme conditions in our universe and are typically only accessible at the world’s largest particle accelerators. In order to reach these strong-field conditions in the laboratory, I make use of laser wakefield acceleration to produce GeV electrons in plasma structures. Colliding these ultra-relativistic electron beams with a second laser pulse allows us to reach extreme field conditions using a particle accelerator which is just centimetres in scale.

I primarily work on the interface between theory and experiment, simulating interactions in the plasma, exploring what kind of measurements can be used to understand the key physics processes, and analysing the results to compare experimental work with our predictions. In the process I’ve taken part in laser experiments with both long and short pulse beams and run both particle-in-cell and fluid simulations on many kinds of plasma physics. Whether exploring stochastic scattering in electron-laser interactions or non-local effects in the scrape-off layer of tokamaks, I’m interested in finding the simplest ways to understand fundamental physics processes in real experiments.

Biography

I completed my PhD at the University of Oxford, working with Simon Hooker on ways to make laser wakefield acceleration more efficient and capable of operating at high repetition rates. I conducted experiments on resonantly driving plasma waves using multiple laser pulses and sensitively measuring the resulting plasma structure using holographic probing. Finally I looked at creating indestructible optical fibres by using long and low density plasma channels formed using above threshold ionization along the line focus from an axicon lens.

Staff Profile 

Dr Bodhi Biswas

bodhi.biswas@york.ac.uk

Bodhi is a postdoc working on the electron Bernstein wave (EBW) current drive system for the conceptual design of STEP (Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production).

His research interests include:

* heating and current drive methods using radio-frequency and micro- waves

* plasma wave and turbulence interaction

* simulations and high performance computing

Bodhi completed his PhD at MIT in 2022. He modelled the scattering of lower hybrid waves as they propagate through the turbulent edge of a tokamak, and how this affects current drive. 

 

Dr Arka Bokshi

arka.bokshi@york.ac.uk

I recently carried out my PhD at the University of York, working jointly between the York Plasma Institute and the Biology department. My PhD project investigated the use of low temperature plasmas for wound healing applications, and it combined computational modelling of plasma chemical kinetics, with experimental biology to determine plasma/biology interactions. 

I am now working as a post doctoral researcher at the York Plasma Institute with a continued interest in plasma modelling and biomedical plasmas. In particular, I am investigating the chemistry occurring in atmospheric pressure plasmas running in molecular gases such as nitrogen and air, using plasma chemistry models. By understanding the chemical kinetics in atmospheric pressure low temperature plasmas, the aim is to be able to tailor the composition of different reactive oxygen and nitrogen species produced in the plasma for different biomedical applications.

Postdoc Profile 

  Dr Alexandra Dudkovskaia

alexandra.dudkovskaia@york.ac.uk

 

 
Staff Profile

Maurizio Giacomin

maurizio.giacomin@york.ac.uk

I am a Postdoctoral Research Associate in Plasma Turbulence Simulations for high- spherical tokamaks. The design and the operation of magnetic confinement fusion devices require accurate predictions of important quantities, such as the energy confinement time and the peak heat flux on the wall. These quantities are strongly related to turbulent transport that originates from highly nonlinear plasma dynamics occurring at different scales. First principles plasma turbulence simulations provide a powerful tool to understand the phenomena behind turbulent transport, therefore contributing to the design of high-performance fusion plasmas.  

After my PhD at EPFL, Lausanne (Switzerland), where I worked on turbulent transport in the plasma boundary of tokamaks, I joined the University of York as Postdoctoral Research Associate. I am currently working on the analysis of turbulent transport in the tokamak core of high- spherical tokamaks by means of first principles turbulence simulations. My research work is carried out within the STEP project, an ambitious programme to deliver a prototype fusion energy plant and a path to commercial viability of fusion, and addresses some of the major uncertainties that prevent accurate predictions of the energy confinement time.

 
 

Dr Koki Imada

koki.imada@york.ac.uk

 

 

Dr Liam Pattinson

liam.pattinson@york.ac.uk

PhD Students

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Student Profile Claudia Cobo Torres

Having completed an MSci degree in Physics at Imperial College London and presented my final year project on the characterisation of gas targets for laser wakefield accelerators, I am now starting my PhD at the York Plasma Institute under the supervision of Dr Chris Murphy. My project is titled “Understanding laser-plasma interactions through wakefield acceleration experiments”.

The interaction between an intense laser and plasma results in non-linear instabilities which can accelerate particles to very high energies. Laser wakefield accelerators take advantage of this to allow compact particle acceleration which has the potential to revolutionise high energy photon sources. However, this phenomenon also occurs in laser-driven fusion, where the presence of high energy particles can be detrimental.

I will be studying the evolution of laser-plasma instabilities through experiments at high-intensity laser facilities along with computer simulations. Our findings will be useful in optimising particle acceleration for radiography applications and in better controlling the energy deposition in inertial confinement fusion.

Student Profile Cyd Cowley

Having completed a Masters thesis at Imperial College London on automatic detection and tracking of tokamak impurities, I am currently on a fusion PhD programme led by the fusion CDT and the University of York. The PhD is ‘Modelling of Advanced Divertor Power Exhaust’, and is supervised by Dr Ben Dudson and Professor Bruce Lipschultz at the University of York, and Dr David Moulton at CCFE.

The edge interactions between a fusion plasma and the surrounding tokamak components are crucial to the success of an operating tokamak. In particular, edge effects such as the liberation of impurities can lead to detrimental losses of power and efficiency. In an attempt to mitigate these effects, many different divertor configurations have been suggested, including the new Super-X divertor at MAST-U. My current project will centre around modelling transport and power loads for these different divertor configurations, and comparing the predictions made to experimental results.

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Student profile Robert Davies

I completed an integrated Masters degree at Durham University and, after a brief foray into software engineering, a one-year MSc in Fusion Energy at the University of York. I am now looking forward to starting my PhD, entitled “Exploring the Physics of the Kinetic Ballooning Mode”, supervised by Dr David Dickinson.

The premise of my research is as follows: magnetically confined fusion, in which high-temperature plasmas are controlled using magnetic fields, have the potential to revolutionise the energy industry. Currently, the “best bet” for making these devices work is to have a torus-shaped plasma, ie the plasma looks like a ring donut. The temperature and density at the core of the plasma are increased by the creation of a so-called “pedestal region” near the edge of the plasma; in this region, temperature and density rise extremely sharply due to the suppression of turbulence. However, the combination of the extreme gradients and high magnetic fields make this region unstable to certain phenomena, such as Edge-Localised Modes (ELMs) and Kinetic Ballooning Modes (KBMs), which cause particles and energy to escape the plasma. This limits the performance of the device, as well as causing damage to the inside of the vessel. I will be using gyro-kinetic and gyro-fluid codes to simulate this edge region and investigate the physics of KBMs; by understanding and controlling the edge instabilities, we become closer to making fusion energy a reality.

Student Profile Adam Dearling

I graduated from the University of Bath with a Masters degree in Natural Sciences, and now study at the York Plasma Institute under the supervision of Professor Nigel Woolsey and Dr Chris Ridgers.

In my PhD project Plasma Kinetics in Magnetised Laser-Driven Plasmas, I will be investigating the effect of magnetic fields on high-energy-density plasmas. This is motivated by current research that suggests magnetising the hot spot during inertial confinement fusion may help limit conduction losses, a key hurdle in achieving ignition during inertial confinement fusion. However, while the application of magnetic fields may help limit this effect it also introduces other physical effects (for example, Nernst) that are not well understood. Performing reduced complexity experiments to investigate these effects will allow us to benchmark kinetic models of magnetised transport, which can be incorporated into magneto-hydrodynamic simulations. This research can be applied to a variety of problems in magnetised high-energy-density physics.

Student Profile Liam Douglas Mann

I completed my Bachelors in Physics at Bryn Mawr College in the US and I am now a PhD student based at York in the Fusion CDT program.  My supervisor is Dr Andy Higginbotham. 

I will be studying dynamic compression of solids, warm dense matter and plasma using the European X-Ray Free Electron Laser's High Energy Density instrument and DiPOLE-X, an optical laser system contributed by the UK. These experiments will generate conditions similar to those in planetary cores and inertial confinement fusion implosions and will reveal the behaviour of matter in these extreme pressures and temperatures.

Experimental work will be complemented by large scale molecular dynamics simulations which allow for a microscopic understanding of material undergoing rapid deformation.

Student Profile Lawrence Dior

Before coming to York, I studied Computer Science at the University of Cambridge and worked as a software engineer at Microsoft Research. I decided to further explore my interest in physics, and completed a degree in Mathematics and Physics with the Open University, followed by an MSc in Applied Computational Science and Engineering at Imperial College London.

My PhD project is titled "Extreme Laser-Driven Hydrodynamics", and is supervised by Dr John Pasley. The aim of this project will be to develop a computational model to simulate the hydrodynamic processes that occur during the first few picoseconds of interaction between a high-intensity laser beam and a solid target. These simulations may be compared with experimental data to further our understanding of the initial, non-equilibrium behaviour of such systems. Improving our understanding of laser-plasma interactions could aid in the development of next-generation inertial confinement fusion reactors.

 

Student Profile Harry Dudding

Having completed an MSci degree in Physics at Imperial College, I am now undertaking a PhD project based at the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE), partnered with the University of York. My research looks at the scaling of particle and energy confinement in tokamaks with different fuel isotopes, using various computational models of plasma transport. It is supervised by Dr David Dickinson (York) and Dr Francis Casson (CCFE).

While tokamaks to date have used mainly deuterium plasmas, ITER and future reactors will operate using a mix of deuterium and tritium. In preparation for these devices, a strong understanding of the relation between different fuel isotopes and how they affect plasma transport processes must be established, as current theory predicts the opposite trend of that observed experimentally.

For this project, different computational models will be used to investigate this relation, from non-linear gyrokinetic codes to simpler gyrofluid codes, validating their predictions with data from JET. This includes JET’s upcoming deuterium-tritium campaign, which will take place over the course of this PhD. These improved models can then be used in integrated plasma simulators for future works.

Profile Picture Matthew Dunn

I graduated with an MPhys from the University of York in 2017, and am now a fusion CDT student under the supervision of Professor Kieran Gibson (York Plasma Institute) and Dr Andrew Thornton (Culham Centre for Fusion Energy). My project title is Investigation of the power balance in advanced divertor configurations on MAST-U.

The divertor is the regulator valve and exhaust of the tokamak. The diverted particles hit an armoured plate and are absorbed, so the energy they carry is wasted rather than used for generating electricity. The MAST Upgrade has seen it fitted with a novel Super-X divertor, which is expected to distribute the power more efficiently. This project will measure the power balance experimentally and analytically, and will compare these results with theory and modelling to assess the Super-X divertor configuration.

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Student Profile  Yorick Enters

Having completed my MPhys degree at the University of St Andrews, I am now starting my PhD project at the University of York, partnered with the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE). My work will focus on using Beam Emission Spectroscopy (BES) as a technique for measuring zonal flows in tokamak plasmas, which will be supervised by Dr Istvan Cziegler (UoY) and Dr Anthony Field (CCFE).

Zonal flows are a major component of tokamak turbulence, which causes strong transport of the plasma across the confining field. Despite this, zonal flows are poorly understood, and detailed measurements are still rare. Thus, the development of an accurate zonal flow measurement technique is crucial for understanding tokamak turbulence and ultimately for improving the quality of global plasma confinement. The measurement technique will be developed using the recently upgraded BES system at the upgraded Mega Amp Spherical Tokamak (MAST-U) in CCFE. 

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Profile Picture Fabio Federici

I am a Fusion CDT student working under the supervision of Professor Bruce Lipschultz of University of York and Dr Matthew Reinke of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

In the pathway of developing reliable fusion energy, plasma exhaust management is becoming of increasing importance, to preserve wall components and to prolong a fusion reactor's operational life. To maximise reactor lifetime it is important to achieve a deep understanding of power fluxes and losses and improved diagnostics are needed. My work will focus on radiated power in the divertor and x-point regions of the tokamak. Given a large amount of power loss is in wavelength ranges where reflective and refractive optics cannot be used, I will utilise specialized sensors which must be placed in vacuum with a direct view of the high-temperature plasma. A promising diagnostic technique is that of an InfraRed Video Bolometer (IRVB), where the radiation from the plasma is imaged onto an absorbing surface and the resulting temperature change of the thermal absorber is interpreted from the change in black-body radiation using a sensitive, high resolution infrared camera, which is viewing the absorber.

My research project title is "Development of Infrared Video Bolometers (IRVB) for Divertor Radiated Power Measurements". Its target is to design, build and operate a IRVB diagnostic device to be installed on MAST-U tokamak at CCFE, Culham, UK. In order to understand the device characteristics and improve its design, complementary work will be done on an existing IRVB diagnostic device currently under development at ORNL to be installed in the NSTX-U tokamak at Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, USA. With the knowledge from those tests an improved version will be designed for MAST-U and installed there. Following that I will operate and use the IRVB to study the role of radiation in the divertor and in the region of the x-point.

Student Profile Calum Freeman

While I was studying for my integrated masters in computational physics at Edinburgh university, a friend commented that as physicists we could contribute to the development of fusion energy. As a result, I'm doing a PhD.

In the summer between my 3rd and 4th years at Edinburgh, I had a fantastic time doing an internship at the Diamond Light Source. While there I was exposed to X-ray imaging (not literally), although it wasn't the focus of my project. Then, between my 4th and 5th years, I attended the CCFE Plasma Physics Summer School.

My Senior honours project looked at lithium/sodium superconducting at high pressure, and my masters project was focused on thin layer turbulence.

My current project's title is "Transformational imaging diagnostics for inertial confinement fusion". Inertial confinement fusion involves heating and compressing a small amount of fuel (deuterium and tritium) with lasers until it is dense and hot enough to undergo fusion. The lasers cause the compression by ablating a surface material, which leads to "the rocket effect". As the material ablates off the surface, it causes a compression force (through Newton’s laws), using the same idea that explains rocket propulsion.

The maximum density and heat in the core is achieved with symmetric compression, which requires symmetric ablation, which is quite difficult to achieve. This task is made especially difficult as it is hard to image inside the fuel.

Under the supervision of Nigel Woolsey (University of York) and Robbie Scott (STFC-CLF), my project's goal is to develop new imaging techniques (likely involving phase contrast imaging), to aid and improve inertial confinement fusion diagnostics. This will likely involve using computational simulations to test the imaging technique to see if it yields accurate images and useful results.

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Student ProfileTheodore Gheorghiu

I completed my MEng at Imperial College London in 2020, presenting my thesis concerning the investigation of a set of possible perturbation sources in inertial confinement fusion capsules, based on recent observed phenomena named ‘meteors’ which are associated with degraded performance.

 

I have moved into MCF on the basis that it seems more feasible to extract usable energy than in ICF - a key issue for the future of fusion. Needless to say, success guarantees the energy needs of humanity for millennia, and would provide an energy dense power source ideal for expansion into the solar system at the very least. 

 

The project, “Numerical Investigation of Plasma Turbulence and Filament Dynamics in Three-Dimensional Tokamak Geometries” will be supervised by Dr Benjamin Dudson of York, and Professor Fulvio Militello of CCFE - this will involve investigating plasma characteristics and field structures in the SOL and near the divertor, which is very relevant to energy transfer from the fusion plasma, and so is particularly exciting.

Student ProfileDaniel Greenhouse

During my undergraduate degree, at the University of Birmingham, I specialised in Particle Physics with a direct focus on simulations of the prospective detection of a Higgs Boson at a future Large Hadron Electron Collider. Compelled by the allure of the vital benefits of Nuclear Fusion, I was keen to become involved in the ongoing incredible research. I transitioned to Plasma Physics research with the help of a UROP project at Imperial College London where I worked on the DiMPl simulation code investigating dust in magnetised plasmas.

I am currently undertaking a PhD, supervised by Professor Bruce Lipschultz, Dr Ben Dudson and Dr James Harrison, in continuing the development of an Integrated Data Analysis (IDA) method. The technique uses a Bayesian framework to combine a multitude of diagnostic measurements of the divertor to aid insight into this critical region of a tokamak. The aim is to apply the IDA technique to real divertor plasmas at MAST-U in order to provide comparison of various divertor configurations. These configurations theoretically offer significant improvement of heat spread at the divertor surface which is a major hurdle that must be overcome by a future Nuclear Fusion power plant.

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Student Profile Lucy Holland

I completed my undergraduate degree in Physics at the University of Warwick and am now undertaking a PhD under the supervision of Professor Roddy Vann. The title of my project is "Supercomputer simulations of microwave-plasma interactions".

Microwaves are of great importance in tokamak plasmas. They are produced from the plasma electrons' cyclotron emissions, the measurement of which can be used to provide spatially-localised temperature information. Microwave beams are also used in plasma heating and to drive currents. Due to the strong fluctuations of the tokamak plasma, some of which are of a comparable length scale to microwave wavelengths, the full interaction between microwaves and the plasma are not fully understood, so a full-wave code is needed to solve the problem numerically. 

I will be using code developed at York, called EMIT-3D, to answer unsolved problems in microwave interactions with tokamak plasmas. Potential areas of interest are whether the heating beams on ITER will be scattered by turbulence in the plasma edge, and whether there are circumstances under which microwave heating beams can decay into other modes before they reach their intended absorption region.

Profile  Lena Howlett

I graduated with an MPhys degree from the University of Manchester in 2017 and came straight to York to complete the MSc in Fusion Energy at the York Plasma Institute. Now I am starting on the Fusion CDT with a project titled "Turbulence in confinement transitions in novel divertor configurations" supervised by Dr Istvan Cziegler at York and Dr Simon Freethy at CCFE.

The high-confinement regime or H-mode describes a state of greatly increased performance, with increases in plasma density and temperature leading to a significant gain in fusion power. Since the dominant source of transport of mass and heat between the magnetic flux surfaces is due to turbulence, the increase in confinement for the transition from low-confinement L-mode to H-mode can be thought of as a suppression of turbulence.

The confinement regimes are influenced by macroscopic parameters such as the geometry of the divertor (the exhaust of the tokamak), and the recent upgrade of the Mega-Ampere Spherical Tokamak (MAST-U) will allow a detailed study of the effect of different divertor configurations on the L-H transition, including advanced concepts such as the super-X divertor which have not previously been explored. In my project I will be analysing data from imaging diagnostics at MAST-U with the aim to examining the nonlinear dynamics of phase transitions.

Student Profile Emma Hume

Having studied for my MPhys at York and completing my Masters project within YPI, I am now continuing my studies at York as part of the Fusion CDT programme. My project is titled "Hot, dense matter creation via ultra-intense laser interaction with novel, structured targets" and is supervised by Dr Kate Lancaster.

Inertial confinement fusion uses intense lasers to compress and heat a fuel pellet and create energy. A variation of ICF, called fast ignition, uses electrons produced during ultra-intense laser interaction with matter to heat the fuel to fusion temperatures. We can increase the efficiency of this process by collimating the electrons or increasing the amount of laser energy absorbed. At present the absorption is limited by the density the laser can penetrate to, but there are options to improve this. One way is to use nano-structured targets such that absorption of laser energy is increased to create hotter material. The project aims to investigate this method through both experimental and simulation work to gain a higher understanding of the physics of heating matter for fusion and improve hot, dense matter creation. This work will not only have use in ICF but can also be applied to nuclear astrophysics, radiation transfer and the studies of hot dense matter properties.

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Student ProfileChristina Ingelby

I have recently graduated from the University of Kent with an MPhys in Physics with Astrophysics. While completing my undergraduate studies, I became increasingly more interested in Plasma Physics and its real-world applications, particularly in Fusion Energy.
The project I will undertake at York is entitled ‘Astrophysically-relevant QED plasmas in the laboratory’, supervised by Dr Kate Lancaster and Dr Chris Ridgers. The project focuses on creating quantum electrodynamic (QED) plasmas using new multi-PW lasers. This increase in laser intensity will allow for new light-matter interactions to be observed, mainly considering cases where electromagnetic fields are so strong that QED plasmas are created. The plasmas are governed by ultra-relativistic plasma processes that alter the behaviour of the plasma entirely; we move away from classical processes and toward quantum effects. There is minimal experimental work undertaken in this area, so QED plasmas are relatively unexplored experimentally. There are a variety of applications of QED plasmas including as a source of gamma rays for radiography of fusion materials. The project will be a combination of laboratory and experimental work, and simulations to explore this new plasma regime. 

 

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Student ProfileMax Kellermann-Stunt

Before joining the university of York, I completed my MSc at Imperial College London. My research project involved developing in house deformable mirrors for laser beam correction for the Cerberus and Chimera laser systems. 

My PhD research will combine experiments and simulations on a non-equilibrium hydrogen plasma, where electrons are relatively energetic compared to ions and neutrals, investigating their dynamics and chemical kinetics when seed gases are admixed, and investigate strategies for enhancing their control within this challenging regime. The results of this project will feed into the development of fusion science and technology via our improved understanding of non-equilibrium plasma physics relevant to the divertor. The findings are also applicable to distinct non-equilibrium plasma applications including, for example, nanoscale materials processing and satellite propulsion.

Profile Picture Matthew Khan

Having completed the MSc in Fusion energy here at York, I will be working towards my PhD under the supervision of Professor Nigel Woolsey. The focus of my work will be on shock ignition; an advanced drive variant of inertial fusion experiments, with the title “Plasma kinetics, pre-heat, and the emergence of strong shocks in laser fusion”.

Conventional inertial confinement fusion or ICF experiments aim to compress a deuterium-tritium filled capsule to high densities and then to high temperatures in order to induce fusion reactions. With correct timing, an intense spike in laser power can drive a strong shock wave into the the compressed deuterium-tritium fuel to coincide with the peak compression and initiate fusion. The physics that underpins the plasma kinetics associated with launching the intense shock, and the effect of energetic or ‘hot’ electrons on the capsule performance, are poorly understood. This project will address questions associated with the laser-plasma-instabilities and capsule preheat due to energy deposition by these hot electrons.

Student ProfileMike Kryjak

Following the completion of my MEng in Mechanical Engineering at Brunel University, I spent five years as a combustion computational fluid dynamics specialist in the energy industry. I have joined the CDT to fulfil my long-standing dream of switching to nuclear fusion and to contribute towards its future commercialisation.

My project is titled "Modelling Kinetic Effects on the Heat Exhaust in High Power Tokamaks" and will be supervised by Dr Chris Ridgers and Dr Ben Dudson based in York. It concerns the simulations of the plasma edge - a region where the plasma exhaust is directed towards the divertor by the tokamak's magnetic fields. In more powerful reactors, this can expose the divertor to heat fluxes beyond what known materials can withstand. Minimising the heat loading to manageable levels poses several yet-unsolved challenges, and is key to ensuring performance in high power output reactors such as ITER, DEMO and STEP.

Current state-of-the-art models of the plasma edge assume local thermodynamic equilibrium (LTE). This project will challenge this assumption by using new, pioneering non-LTE models, which have shown significant departures from previous results obtained for ITER. This work will explore the impact of using this new approach on furthering our understanding of plasma exhaust and divertor phenomena, with a focus on assessing strategies for mitigating divertor heat loading.

 

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Student Profile Sidney Leigh

I completed my Masters in Physics with Astrophysics at the University of York on a computational modelling project with the York Plasma Institute. My project at the CDT will look at performance-limiting plasma instabilities in the ITER tokamak, building upon a theory and computational model recently developed at York.

In particular, the work will focus on an instability known as the neoclassical tearing mode (NTM), a mechanism that leads to the formation of ‘magnetic islands’ where heat and particles can escape confinement. While smaller islands dissipate over time, the unmitigated growth of larger islands would lead to significant losses in confinement and heating power, or potentially a catastrophic disruption. Testing the NTM theory against experimental measurements of tokamaks may provide solutions to controlling the formation of islands in newer, much larger reactors such as ITER.

Profile Picture James Lolley

My PhD, supervised by Dr Erik Wagenaars and Prof Greg Tallents, focuses on the interactions between high-power lasers and solids, specifically ablation – the conversion of solid material to plasma. Experimental investigations will use several state-of-the-art laser systems in the YPI laboratories that vary from the infrared to extreme ultra-violet (EUV) regime. The aim is to produce a more complete picture of the wavelength dependence of this process, with an emphasis on absorption mechanisms. Ablation already has a range of applications at optical wavelengths but only more recently have short-wavelength sources become available in the laboratory, allowing us to investigate behaviour applicable to indirect-drive ICF.

Student ProfileNicola Lonigro

I studied for both my undergraduate and master degrees in Physics at the University of Padua, in Italy. My interest in nuclear fusion started during my bachelor thesis research on developing a convolutional neural network for the analysis of infrared imaging system data on the SPIDER experiment. It then continued during my masters degree through elective courses and it culminated in my masters thesis on the study of parametric decay instabilities during Electron Cyclotron Resonance (ECR) heating on the NORTH tokamak at the Technical University of Denmark.

My Ph.D project, supervised by Professor Bruce Lipschultz and Professor Kieran Gibson at the University of York and Dr James Harrison at CCFE, involves the study of the divertor region of the MAST-U tokamak through the new Multi-Wavelength-Imaging (MWI) diagnostic.

This diagnostic allows researchers to acquire eleven video movies corresponding to 2D brightness images of the divertor region, each filtered for a different wavelength. The profiles have different dependencies on the plasma parameters and by putting them together with the data from the other diagnostics, these parameters can be reconstructed. The MWI data will be integrated in the Bayesian framework currently being used to determine the divertor state, thereby improving its capability.

Handling the large exhaust heat loads corresponding to that of a reactor is one of the main problems on the way to commercial fusion tokamaks providing a net power source. The magnetic topology of the divertor (where the exhaust power is carried towards surfaces) in MAST-U is flexible and the MWI diagnostic will help in determining the most appropriate divertor configuration to optimize the dissipation of power and thus reduce peak power loads.

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Student ProfileRyan Magee

I completed my BSc in Physics at the University of Surrey, undertaking a placement year in the ion-beam research group at Applied Materials, USA. My dissertation investigated implant induced defects in silicon carbide and the resultant changes to its material properties.

My PhD research at York focuses on the development of low-temperature plasma ion sources, which are of significant interest for applications ranging from neutral-beam injection for magnetic confined fusion, electric propulsion and advanced manufacturing. We are particularly interested in the physics of negative ion production in these sources, and will investigate this via a combination of 2D fluid-kinetic simulations and non-invasive optical diagnostics.

Student Profile Felicity Maiden

My background is an integrated masters in Natural Sciences specialising in Physics at the University of York, graduating in 2021. During my degree I was fortunate enough to complete a summer internship working on microwave current drive for STEP which triggered my interest in plasma physics and passion for bringing fusion energy to the National Grid. My masters project was also in plasma physics, looking at how we can model the effect of drifts in the divertor of high power tokamaks.

 For my project on the Fusion CDT, I am back to working on microwave current drive, particularly the use of Electron Bernstein Waves during start-up for prototype spherical tokamaks.

 In order to confine a plasma inside a tokamak, we need to generate a current through the plasma itself. So far, this has been done through induction using a solenoid down the centre of the device. However, there are disadvantages in this approach if we are designing a spherical tokamak power plant. This includes that there is not very much space in the centre column and that we want to be operating the power plant for substantial amounts of time. Microwave current drive offers a solution to both of these problems as the gyrotrons can be located a long way away from the device and can be used for long periods of time. Therefore, it would be ideal if we could design a system to drive the plasma current throughout both phases of operation: start-up (when the plasma is being formed) and steady-state (the main phase of operation, when energy is generated). Microwave current drive in steady-state has been studied extensively but start-up is less well understood.

Therefore, my project will aim to find a microwave system for the start-up phase of the plasma. It is a collaboration between the University of York, CCFE and Tokamak Energy and I will be working under the supervision of Roddy Vann, Simon Freethy, Vladimir Shevchenko and Erasmus du Toit.

 

Profile Picture  Michael Mo

I am an aeronautical engineering graduate from the University of Bristol, and my research will be on 'Metrology for in-situ industrial plasma processing'. I will be based at the University of York with Dr Deborah O'Connell and Professor Timo Gans as my supervisors.

Low-temperature plasmas already enable diverse technologies ranging from nano-electronics for electronic computer and mobile phone chips, spacecraft propulsion to surgical devices. ‘Cold’ plasmas are weakly ionised and far from thermodynamic equilibrium; the electrons are hot (ie ~ 10,000°C), while the heavier ions and neutrals (dominant component) are close to room temperature. These plasmas efficiently produce reactive species, particularly free radicals, eg atoms, that play a crucial role in surface interactions. In order to better control and design the plasma surface interaction knowledge of the dynamics of these species is important. These processes also mimic those in the divertor region of fusion reactors. Sensors that probe the plasma-surface interface are critical to feed into design strategies for both processing applications and boundaries in fusion reactors.

The project will build on a developing sensor design concept, with proof-of-principle already demonstrated, to probe the plasma-surface interface. In addition, the metrology concept will be suitably adapted and implemented as a real-time sensor for process control. Moreover, plasma operating conditions common to processing applications and divertor regions will be investigated, namely molecular electro-negative gases, eg hydrogen and oxygen.

student profile Hasan Muhammed

I am an Imperial College London physics graduate who is moving onto the CDT after finishing the wonderful Fusion MSc at York. My motivation lies in the prospect of creating a tokamak plasma capable of generating clean and near limitless power. To this end, I will be working on simulations of ‘Turbulence and Instabilities in the Super-X Divertor’ under the supervision of Dr Ben Dudson.

The divertor is used to extract heat and ash produced by the fusion reaction, minimise plasma contamination, and protect the surrounding walls from thermal and neutronic loads. It is a vital component in any modern tokamak design, but improved control and understanding of the divertor plasma is still required before a viable fusion power plant can be created. Optimisation of the divertor requires enhancement of cross-field transport (through turbulence), as well as to the removal of energy and momentum from the plasma using atoms, molecules and impurity ions.

My work aims to generate a better understanding of the toll that turbulence and instabilities have on the removal of energy and momentum from divertor plasmas. I will use state of the art simulation tools built on the BOUT++ framework and aim to make improvements to the underlying mathematical and physical models, and the implementation of numerical algorithms. I will then look to using these models to understand experimental data and make predictions which can be tested experimentally on the upcoming UK flagship tokamak experiment, MAST-Upgrade. One of the key features of this tokamak is the Super-X Divertor that implements a long-legged divertor configuration with a more complex magnetic topology

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Student Profile Charlie Nicholls

I completed my undergraduate degree in physics at the University of York and presented my masters thesis on the properties of a type of small scale tearing parity instability observed in gyrokinetic simulations. These look similar to the well understood micro-tearing modes but are driven by a different mechanism.

My PhD is looking at gyrokinetic simulations of electromagnetic instabilities in high beta tokamaks, also at York and supervised by Dr David Dickinson and Professor Howard Wilson.

 

Student Profile Ann-Marie Norton

I’m a recent graduate from the University of York with an MPhys in Physics with Astrophysics; I’m excited to be starting my PhD at the University of York.

My project will look at different materials responses to high power dynamic compression and includes experimental work using the European XFEL facility. XFEL produces a laser-like pulsed X-ray beam that will be used on the femtosecond timescale to reveal how the material deforms under high pressures and temperatures. Real-time probing of the material will be carried out using X-ray diffraction. This work can also shed light on the early stages of compression that occurs in ICF capsules. Dr Andy Higginbotham supervises my project.

 

 

Student Profile Arun Nutter

During the final year of my MPhys at the University of Warwick, I found myself drawn to the field of plasma physics and fusion energy. My CDT project concerns inertial confinement fusion and is titled “the polar direct drive shock ignition approach”. It will be supervised by Professor Nigel Woolsey at York and Dr Robbie Scott at the Central Laser Facility.

The National Ignition Facility is currently set up to run indirect drive experiments, where lasers are focused on a hohlraum, a shell encasing the fuel capsule, which radiates x-rays onto the capsule to trigger an implosion. In direct drive fusion, the lasers strike the capsule directly, hopefully increasing the process’ efficiency as no energy is expended in heating the hohlraum. However, with this comes a whole host of new problems, such as those associated with the overlapping of multiple coherent laser beams.

I intend to study these problems holding back ICF by using advanced radiation hydrodynamic models to study implosions, and new computational techniques to address the complex physics associated with laser-plasma interaction and the effect of overlapping many laser beams, as well as working on current sub-ignition scale experiments with the OMEGA laser.

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Student Profile Michel Osca Engelbrecht

Since graduating in 2016 in Aerospace Engineering at Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (Spain), I started developing my career in the area of plasma physics. As part of my bachelor final project I explored magnetized targets for inertial confinement fusion, which led me to work as a research collaborator at Universidad Politécnica de Madrid. Afterwards, I worked as an intern at Max-Planck Institute for Plasma Physics in Garching (Germany). 
 
These experiences encouraged me to undertake the MSc in Fusion Energies at University of York. During my Masters I have been involved in a research project that studies ultra-relativistic high-intensity laser-plasma interactions,  part of which is included in my Masters Dissertation. 
 
My PhD subject is “Cross-field Transport in Magnetized Plasmas”. I use kinetic simulations to investigate high frequency modes and turbulence in plasmas containing strong magnetic fields and the consequences for magnetic confinement fusion.  I am based primarily at the University of York, but work in collaboration with experimental groups at Imperial College London and the University of Liverpool to explore the relevance of my simulations to plasma thrusters and magnetron sputtering devices.

CDT Phd Student Simon Orchard

I am working on the project, ‘Using advanced camera image and data analysis to address an important hurdle for magnetic fusion energy’, supervised by Prof Bruce Lipschultz and Dr James Harrison(CCFE).

For magnetic fusion reactors to function effectively, it is important to minimize the heat flux and erosion of divertor surfaces. Existing methods for lowering the heat flux combine plasma and atomic physics with improvements in surface geometry. However further reductions are needed along with a better understanding of the physics.

In my project, I will analyse CCD images of the MAST-U Super-X divertor using ray tracing and tomography techniques. These will then be integrated with atomic physics models and other diagnostics to derive the properties and evolution of the plasma. This will help advance our basic physics understanding of what processes are at work in the divertor region and the data will serve as a basis for testing (or benchmarking) our numerical models of the divertor region.

Student Profile Nick Osborne

After completing the Fusion Energy MSc at York University part-time, I am now starting on the CDT programme (also part-time).

Before my MSc, I was away from studying physics for quite some time, working as a physics teacher among other things.  It is a privilege to return to my own studies and make a contribution within the fusion project!

My project supervisors are Dr Mark Bowden at the University of Liverpool and Dr Kevin Verhaugh at the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE).

In future tokamak devices. handling the very intense energy flowing out of the plasma to the divertor is going to be an important issue.  Operating the plasma in a mode called detachment is a key part of the solution but the conditions for detachment are not yet fully understood.  This is an experimental project looking at plasma molecule interactions in the divertor of MAST-U (a spherical tokamak at CCFE) with the objective of determining their influence on detachment.

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Student ProfileBen Pritchard

Before joining the Fusion CDT, I completed an MEng degree in Mechanical Engineering from University of Leeds and had worked in the motor racing industry for 2 years. My PhD topic will focus on a microwave imaging device known as SAMI (Synthetic Aperture Microwave Imaging). SAMI is an excellent device that showcases the diversity in disciplines (from physicists to electrical engineers) required to achieve sustainable fusion energy production.

 

I will be working on creating a second generation SAMI device that will be able to image fusion plasma behaviour that has never before been captured. The device will allow hypotheses to be tested and will provide a new diagnostic technique for scientists to use in the current and next generation of fusion machines.

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Student ProfileLeo Richardson

I am a PhD Fusion CDT student studying with the University of York in collaboration with CCFE.

My project is titled Electromagnetic Turbulence and Advanced Transport Modelling and is under the supervision of Dr David Dickinson and Dr Colin Roach.

The project focuses on studying and modelling electromagnetic plasma instabilities and the associated turbulence. By understanding these fluctuations and improving upon the numerical models used to simulate them we can better understand what is needed for improved confinement and thus optimised tokamak performance.

I graduated from the University of York with a Master of Physics, with my final year project being titled Space Tether Systems for Space Junk Removal. I was motivated to pursue fusion research due to my strong beliefs of the many advantages that fusion energy offers humankind.

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Student Profile Celine Schauman

I completed my MSci in Physics With a Year Abroad at Imperial College London in 2020 and have long been interested in nuclear fusion. My desire to pursue an academic career in the field only solidified after I wrote my masters thesis on the topic of magnetohydrodynamic instabilities in tokamaks. I will be starting a PhD project at the York Plasma Institute entitled “Exotic Plasma Instabilities in Strongly Rotating Tokamak Plasma” and supervised by Howard Wilson (University of York) and Jonathan Graves (EPFL, Lausanne).

Neutral beam injection, commonly used for heating tokamak plasmas, imparts momentum to the plasma. In this way it can drive significant plasma rotation in tokamaks like MAST-U, at which point centrifugal and Coriolis effects become important. These can affect the behaviour of plasma instabilities and even introduce new ones. Because future tokamaks like STEP and ITER will experience very little rotational flow it is important to study now how it can impact plasma dynamics and stability. 

My project will focus on studying rotation-driven Kelvin Helmholtz-like instabilities using a combination of analytical methods and computational modelling. In particular, the goal is to identify the conditions for which these instabilities occur and develop a computational model which may be extended to future tokamaks.

 

Student Profile Tobias Schuett

I completed my undergraduate degree in Physics at the University of Münster during which I spent the final year at the University of York and worked on the detection and analysis of edge localised modes in tokamak plasmas. Being convinced of the importance of fusion research, I am now joining the Fusion CDT to study turbulence in confinement transitions for different divertor configurations. My project will be supervised by Dr Istvan Cziegler (YPI) and by Dr Simon Freethy (CCFE).

After the plasma in a tokamak is heated beyond a critical power threshold, the turbulence located at the edge of the plasma is greatly suppressed and a transition from what is known as low confinement mode (L-mode) into high confinement mode (H-mode) takes place. While the L-H-transition power threshold dependency on macroscopic plasma parameters such as density and temperature is well understood, the suppression of turbulence also shows to be influenced by different divertor geometries. This coupling is not fully understood and a physical picture is yet missing.
The divertor, which can be thought of as the exhaust of the tokamak, will be subject to especially high heat fluxes in future magnetic confinement fusion devices such as ITER. Different divertor geometries can reduce the heat flux by spreading the magnetic field lines and are hence a promising solution to this problem. I will be conducting research on the MAST-U experimental spherical tokamak that enables the investigation of novel divertor geometries such as ‘Super-X’ and their influence on the turbulence dynamics.

Profile Matthew Selwood

PhD student within the Fusion CDT, based in the York Plasma Institute supervised by Dr Chris Murphy. Previously read MSci in Chemical Physics with Industrial Experience at the University of Bristol, spending a year with the Central Laser Facility at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratories in Didcot as a Target Area Scientist.

X-ray imaging with a CCD is most commonly performed with a pinhole aperture. However, high power laser-solid interactions do not always produce a sufficient intensity of radiation to be adequately imaged. This project will explore advancements of aperture design to allow for a higher throughput of radiation, while conserving or bettering the image resolution of the current pinhole aperture at the micron level.

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Profile Picture Steven Thomas

I graduated with a BSc in physics from the University of Manchester in 2011. I spent the next few years working mainly as a maths and physics tutor for GCSE and A level students before taking a break to travel in 2014. Upon my return I continued working as a tutor as well as branching out into teaching in schools. I decided to change careers and joined the fusion energy MSc at the University of York in 2016/17. I am now starting a PhD on the Fusion CDT under the supervision of Istvan Cziegler (YPI) and Anthony Field (CCFE).

As plasmas in magnetic confinement experiments can reach temperatures in excess of a keV, their interaction with vessel walls is of great importance and interest. It is at this edge, where magnetic field lines can pierce solid surfaces, where the most turbulent area of the plasma lies. Since turbulence is widely regarded as the main mechanism responsible for the majority of heat and mass transport between magnetic flux surfaces, its analysis is central to the success of controlled fusion.

It is within this exciting area of physics that I shall be conducting my research.

Student Profile Mark Turner

I have recently completed the MSc in fusion energy at York and after a long break from physics it was great to stretch my brain to learn plasma physics and in particular laser plasma physics. I discovered a great research community in the york plasma institute and had the privilege to do my masters thesis under Professor Chris Ridgers simulating laser stimulated magnetic fields in gas jets.

Now as part of the Fusion CDT I will be working with Dr Chris Murphy on ICF relevant laser plasma interactions with exotic pulses. These exotic pulses are shaped to give orbital angular momentum to the wavefront which opens rich opportunities to study their effect on laser plasma instabilities and X-ray production from Laser-Wakefield electron acceleration. I will be using state of the art simulation tech simulation techniques alongside experiments at international laser facilities in order to better understand the potential benefits of these exotic pulses.

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Student Profile Yuyao Wang

I obtained my BSc degree in Physics from the University of Bath in 2017 and graduated from the University of St. Andrews with an MSc Degree in Astrophysics in 2018. 

 

I then spent the next three years working as an innovative solution engineer in the connected and autonomous mobility industry. To satisfy my growing interest in astrophysics, fusion technology and plasma physics, I decided to pursue a PhD at Fusion CDT.

 

I have now started my PhD at the University of York under the supervision of Professor Nigel Woolsey. My research focuses on understanding the fundamental physics behind hydrodynamic instabilities, turbulence and material mix as manifest in the matter at extreme conditions. These physical behaviours are observed and studied at enormously different scales extending from the implosion of a millimetre-sized inertial fusion fuel capsule to the explosion of a massive star.

 

As part of my PhD project, we are currently collaborating with First Light Fusion Ltd. to design and perform an experiment to replicate supernova shock-cloud interactions in a laboratory scale by using their light gas gun facility. There are opportunities to propose similar ideas that use high energy laser in the UK and elsewhere. My studies aim to contribute to understanding the physics behind high energy density astrophysical and laboratory phenomena as well as developing reliable tools and techniques for measurements relevant to inertial confinement fusion.

 

Student profile David West

Prior to entering the CDT program, I obtained a BSc in Natural Sciences from the University of Leeds, and a MSc in Fusion Energy from the University of York. My project, supervised by Dr John Pasley, focuses on Extreme Laser-Driven Hydrodynamics and Particle Production. High intensity, short-pulse lasers can create extreme conditions, such as temperatures in excess of 10 million Kelvin or gigabar pressure shock waves. The project will involve the design, performance, and analysis, of experiments which will investigate the hydrodynamic behaviour of materials, and the production of particles, due to the interaction between solid materials and extremely intense laser radiation.  

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Youlin Zhou Yulin Zhou

I come from China. Now, I am a PhD student in York Plasma Institute (YPI), supervised by Dr Ben Dudson.

Impurity, which has significant influences on plasma confinement, is one of the key issues for existing tokamak devices and even the future nuclear fusion reactors (ie ITER). My research project aims to provide theoretical and experimental bases to understand impurity transport process, and explore ways to improve plasma confinement of tokamak. This project combines theoretical research and numerical simulation to study multi-component plasma transport in tokamak. I will analyse the reactions between impurity and main plasma with ADAS database in order to simulate impurity transport process in realistic tokamak geometry and study its effects on main plasma, divertor detachment and edge turbulence transport.

This project will be completed by using BOUT++ code, which is a framework for writing fluid and plasma simulations in curvilinear geometry. BOUT++ is primarily designed and tested with reduced plasma fluid models in mind, but it can evolve any number of equations, with equations appearing in a readable form.

When I am free, I enjoy different kind of sports, like basketball, football and badminton.