Group photo of staff and students at the York Plasma Institute

Academic Staff

Istvan Cziegler photo

Dr Istvan Cziegler


Magnetic Confinement Fusion
James Dedrick Dr James Dedrick Lecturer Low Temperature Plasmas
  Dr David Dickinson Lecturer Magnetic Confinement Fusion
Ben Dudson Dr Ben Dudson Senior Lecturer Magnetic Confinement Fusion
Timo Gans Professor Timo Gans

Coordinator of LTP research, 
Chair, Department Research Committee,

Low Temperature Plasmas
Kieran Gibson Professor Kieran Gibson Deputy Head of Department,
Magnetic Confinement Fusion
Andrew Higginbotham


Dr Andrew Higginbotham



Laser Plasmas & Fusion
Professor Bruce Lipschultz Professor Magnetic Confinement Fusion
Dr Chris Murphy




Laser Plasmas & Fusion
Deborah O'Connell Dr Deborah O'Connell Reader Low Temperature Plasmas
John Pasley Dr John Pasley Senior Lecturer Laser Plasmas & Fusion
Geoff Pert Professor Geoff Pert Emeritus Professor Laser Plasmas & Fusion
Chris Ridgers Dr Christopher Ridgers

Director of MSc Fusion Energy,

Laser Plasmas & Fusion
Greg Tallents Professor Greg Tallents Coordinator of LPI research,
Laser Plasmas & Fusion
Roddy Vann Dr Roddy Vann Senior Lecturer Magnetic Confinement Fusion
Erik Wagenaars Dr Erik Wagenaars Lecturer Low Temperature Plasmas
Howard Wilson Professor Howard Wilson YPI Director,
Fusion CDT Director,
Coordinator of MCF research,
Magnetic Confinement Fusion
Nigel Woolsey Professor Nigel Woolsey Chair of Board of Studies,
Laser Plasmas & Fusion

Support Staff

 Profile picture Mrs Donna Cook
Finance Administrator
Photo of Hillary Marshall Mrs Hillary Marshall Finance Administrator

Mrs Kathryn Harvey

YPI and CDT Administrative Assistant
Profile picture  Dr Peter Hill
Computational Research Officer and Departmental Computing Officer
Dr Kate Lancaster YPI Industry Officer
 ‌Ruth Lowman, YPI & CDT Admin Assistant Mrs Ruth Lowman
YPI and CDT Administrative Assistant
Kari Niemi Dr Kari Niemi
Research Officer

PhD Students


Layla Alelyani

I am a PhD student under the supervision of Dr Deborah O’Connell and Dr James Dedrick working in the field of low temperature atmospheric pressure plasmas. These plasmas have been attractive due to their operation under ambient pressure and temperature and also the production of chemically reactive species which are used for biomedical applications. My work focuses on studying electron dynamics in the plasma by applying tailored voltage waveforms, which provides additional control over the plasma characteristics. This in turn controls chemistry and consequently determines the biological mechanisms.

CDT Phd StudentJoe Allen

‌I am a PhD student in the SAMI research group, supervised by Dr Roddy Vann.

My research project title is “Microwave imaging of the tokamak plasma edge”, specifically focusing on the SAMI (Synthetic Aperture Microwave Imaging) diagnostic device, currently installed on NSTX-U in Princeton. With its 8 antennae, affording a wide field of view, SAMI can measure plasma microwave emissions actively or passively at a sampling rate of 250 MHz. I will analyse plasma microwave activity in order to measure the elusive edge current density, along with extending innovative pitch angle measurements from SAMI data and looking at consequences of turbulence in the outer plasma. 

Edge localised mode (ELM) control is vital for the longevity of next generation tokamaks, necessitating collection of detailed edge pressure gradient and current density data. Edge pressure gradients can be attained with existing methods, however edge current density remains difficult to measure directly, making values determined from SAMI data important for the future of ELM mitigation.

Michail Anastopoulis TzanisMichail-Savvas Anastopoulos-Tzanis

I am a FCDT student at the University of York and my supervisors are Prof. Howard Wilson (University of York) and Dr. Christofer Ham (CCFE).

H-mode tokamak plasmas are characterised by steep pressure and current density gradients. Consequently, they are vulnerable to edge localised modes (ELMs), which are eruptions that seriously damage plasma facing components of the tokamak as well as relaxing the temperature profile of the plasma. As a result, understanding and controlling these instabilities is important for future tokamak devices like ITER, in order to increase the efficiency and lifetime of the device. A promising way refers to the application of resonant magnetic perturbations (RMPs) that destroy the axisymmetry of the magnetic field at the plasma edge. Complete suppression of ELMs has been observed in DIII-D, AUG and KSTAR, while mitigation occurred in MAST and JET. This project will employ a combination of high performance computing using the BOUT++ code and development of reduced analytic models to probe the physics of RMPs in tokamak plasmas. This new knowledge will then be employed to understand the impact of the plasma perturbations on peeling-ballooning stability in an attempt to understand ELM mitigation or suppression.


CDT Phd StudentSteve Biggs

I completed an MSci in Physics at the University of Nottingham in 2008. I then worked for an engineering consultancy in the nuclear industry for 6 years, followed by 1 year with a software company in the energy sector.

After that, I studied for an MSc in Fusion Energy before beginning my Fusion CDT position. 

My PhD project will use the gyrokinetics code GS2 to investigate plasma microinstabilities in tokamaks. Microinstabilities drive plasma turbulence, which degrades confinement through increased particle and energy transport. This project aims to quantify the properties of various microinstabilities and include simulated diagnostics in GS2 to facilitate comparison with experiment.

In my spare time, I enjoy heavy metal music, hacking my phone and laptop with open source software, and spending time with my partner and our two year old son.

nullDavid Blackman

I completed an MSc project on target pre-plasmas and am now carrying on this research, working with my supervisor, Dr John Pasley, at the Tata Institute for Technology on modelling new experimental data gathered there.

My main focus is on short pulse (femtosecond) high intensity (1018Wcm-2) laser-interactions with matter. I have an ongoing collaboration with G Ravindra Kumar's group at the Tata Institute for Fundamental Research in Mumbai and have co-authored a paper with them that was published in Physics of Plasmas in July 2014. The subject of the paper was on measuring and analysing shocks produced by high intensity lasers on silicate targets, this work has also been extended to other target types and laser-plasma conditions. The aim of this collaboration is in probing shock conditions and basic physics associated with the absorption of an ultra-short laser pulse into a solid medium. I have also performed experiments at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxford on the Gemini laser system in conjunction with Rajeev Patathil. This is with the aim of analysing fast electron transport from magnetic field growth on the rear surface of targets.

student profileMartin Blake

I joined the low temperature plasma (LTP) group in September of 2012, where I began studying for a master of research degree.The project focused on the plasma liquid interface for biological applications of low temperature plasmas. It looked at varying the initial plasma conditions and monitoring the species measured at the liquid surface via a variety of techniques (EPR, colourimetry), once the plasma had interacted with it. Deborah O’Connell (Physics) and Victor Chechik (Chemistry) were my joint supervisors for this project.

I then continued my studies in the LTP group by starting a PhD in April of 2014 under the supervision of Timo Gans and Deborah O’Connell, my current project focuses on a variety of diagnostics developed for use in semiconductor manufacturing processes. We are looking to develop optical techniques to enable more process control inside large scale manufacturing plasmas. These experiments are done on a gaseous electronics conference (GEC) cell, to simulate this environment.

Student ProfileJoshua Boothroyd

‌After graduating from the University of York with an MPhys in 2016, I am now a PhD student under the joint supervision of Timo Gans (York Plasma Institute, Department of Physics) and Terry Dillon (Wolfson Atmospheric Chemistry Laboratories, Department of ‌Chemistry). My work is centred around quantifying the role of short-lived reactive species in atmospheric chemistry.

Short-lived radicals such as atomic chlorine and hydroxyl are important in many chemical and biomedical applications as they are highly reactive. Quantifying the reactivity of these species is difficult as there is not an efficient source of these radicals at atmospheric pressure and temperature. My project is to design and develop an atmospheric pressure plasma source for producing these short-lived species. By using laser spectroscopy, mass spectrometry and the comparative reactivity method, it is possible to measure the radical’s reactivity.

CDT Phd StudentPhilip Bradford

My PhD project is entitled An All Optical Platform for Magnetised Inertial Fusion and HEDP Research and is supervised by Prof Nigel Woolsey. I will be studying how external magnetic fields can be applied in Inertial Confinement Fusion to help ignite fuel capsules and improve their yields. The addition of a magnetic field is thought to suppress adverse hydrodynamic instabilities and electron heat conduction within the capsules, as well as help with the confinement of thermonuclear alpha particles. Through computation and experiment, I will analyse how strong magnetic fields can be generated using miniature laser-driven electromagnets (an all-optical platform for magnetised HEDP); this will then be combined with high energy density physics research to address a wide variety of problems in the fields of ICF and astrophysical plasmas. 

nullJoe Branson

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.

nullJonathan Brodrick

Simulations of thermal transport in plasmas important for inertial and magnetic confinement fusion often make the assumption of local thermodynamic equilibrium in calculating the heat flow.  This neglects non-local effects, where heat is transported far from the local region under the influence of steep temperature gradients. My PhD project, under the supervision of Christopher Ridgers, involves improving and applying models for nonlocal transport in fluid codes by testing them against kinetic Vlasov-Fokker-Planck codes.


nullAlexandra Dudkovskaia

My PhD project title is “Modelling Neoclassical Tearing Mode in Tokamak Plasmas”. I am working under the supervision of Prof Howard Wilson.

 The fusion power in future tokamaks like ITER will be proportional to the square of the plasma beta parameter. Instabilities limit this pressure and define the operational limits of the system. Hence understanding and controlling plasma instabilities is important.

One instability of particular concern is called a neoclassical tearing mode (NTM), which arises because of a filamentation of current density in the plasma. This filamentation changes the topology of the magnetic field lines, forming magnetic islands. The pressure is flattened across the islands and, as a result, the core plasma pressure is reduced; this, in turn, reduces the fusion power. This is why NTMs are a concern for ITER. Furthermore, NTMs can lock to the vessel wall and, as a result, terminate the plasma discharge – an event called a disruption. Disruptions impart large thermal and electromagnetic loads that can destroy the first wall of the reactor.

NTMs only grow to large amplitude if a “seed perturbation” exceeds a certain threshold amplitude of about 1cm (in a tokamak plasma about 1m across). Understanding the physics of this threshold, which is complicated because of its small size, is important for avoiding or controlling NTMs on future tokamak-reactors. My research will advance the theory of the threshold physics, and explore the seeding mechanism, providing input to the design and operation of ITER’s NTM control system.

Leo Doehl Leo Doehl 

I am a Fusion CDT student working on “radiation dominated physics in relativistic laser-plasma interactions” at the University of York and supervised by Prof Nigel Woolsey.

Within a few optical cycles a focussed optical laser beam can reach intensities exceeding 10^20 W/cm^2. When incident on a solid this laser creates a high energy density plasma – a short-lived state characterised by extremely high energy densities or pressures. A powerful method for studying these plasmas in situ is X-ray spectroscopy. This has led to the observations of hollow atoms which are atomic states where the atoms or ions have been ionised from inside first. This is an example of a system far from equilibrium. The most plausible cause for forming these hollow atoms, and in the quantities observed, is by photo-pumping the atoms with a very high flux X-ray source. Atomic models suggest this intense X-ray source is polychromatic. The question remains whether it is possible to observe this X-ray source using the hollow atoms as a diagnostic of the laser-solid interaction itself.

The polychromatic X-ray radiation field is thought to originate from nonlinear electron interactions with the laser and relativistic electron transport in the solid. Understanding this could suggest a method for the creation of powerful X-ray sources which may also be useful for other future applications. The radiation field is of such intensity that the generation of it may change nature of the laser absorption processes and an early indication that additional physics will come into play as with increasing laser intensities.

In this project I intent to link experimental studies of ultra-intense laser-solid interactions and hollow atom spectral measurements to computational plasma and atomic physics modelling and theory. With this approach I aim to understand the generation mechanism and spectral properties of the radiation field. The project is part of a large collaboration with colleagues in UK, Germany, USA, Russia and Japan. This project is funded by the Central Laser Facility at the Science Technology Facility Council (STFC) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Centre for Doctoral Training.

Scott Doyle profile picScott Doyle


Website imageErasmus Du Toit

I am doing a PhD on using microwaves in the startup process of tokamak fusion reactors, under the supervision of Dr Roddy Vann. This work involves understanding the interaction of microwaves with plasma, and creating computer simulations to model the startup process in tokamak fusion reactors, in order to get a better understanding of how we can use microwaves (as opposed to inducting coils) to heat the plasma in the initial startup phase.

nullPhil Durey

I am studying for a PhD at the University of York under the supervision of Dr Nigel Woolsey. My area of research is diagnosing mix in National Ignition Facility (NIF) fuel capsules. NIF is the most energetic laser in the world and is used to drive ICF experiments, with the goal of achieving ignition. The mixing of ablator layers into the DT fuel during implosion is considered to be one of the main obstacles currently preventing ignition. My work will involve using computer simulations to develop ways of diagnosing mix from emission spectra. I am primarily based at York, but will also be spending significant time at NIF in Livermore, California.


Fusion CDT Student James EllisJames Ellis

I am studying for a PhD under the joint supervisor of Timo Gans and Deborah O'Connell at the University of York.

The majority of conventional magnetic confinement fusion plasmas require the use of neutral beam injectors (NBI) – in tangent with other mechanisms – in order to heat the plasma to fusion relevant temperatures. Conventionally positive ions are sourced from a low temperature plasma, these are then accelerated through an electric field and neutralised prior to being deposited into the core fusion plasma. An alternative method for the generation of neutral particles is to use negatively charged ions. My project is to develop a highly sensitive optical diagnostic technique based on
Cavity Ring Down Spectroscopy (CRDS) in order to accurately measure the concentration of these electronegative ions.


Damon Farley Damon Farley

My project title is ‘Experimental investigations of relativistic laser-plasma interaction physics’.

Fast Ignition (FI) is one approach being pursued in order to achieve nuclear fusion through inertial confinement. This regime distinguishes itself from the conventional approach to ignition by the insertion of a gold cone into the centre of the target; this allows secondary lasers to be directed close to the core of the deuterium-tritium fuel to develop the spark that initiates nuclear fusion.

Under the supervision of Drs K Lancaster and J Pasley, the physics of primary relevance to the project outlined here is the understanding of the generation and transport of relativistic electrons generated during ultra-intense laser-plasma interactions. Through investigation of the production, divergence and transport of these energetic electrons at the cone apex, further understanding of target heating can be obtained; allowing the required temperatures to initiate nuclear fusion to be within closer reach.

Collaborations are to be undertaken with facilities such as the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, with work being linked to recent investigations into reducing electron divergence through structured guiding targets and the hydrodynamics generated by the laser pre-pulse carried out at the respective facilities.

All work is directly relevant to the EPSRC Plasma and lasersresearch area and the Emergence and Physics Far From Equilibriumgrand challenge set out by the research council. In order for a viable inertial fusion energy source to be realised, a number of technical challenges need to be overcome. Understanding the physics of relativistic electrons in laser plasma interactions is a fundamental part of the development of a route to high gain laser driven fusion.

Student profileAlex Foote

I am currently studying for a PhD under the joint supervision of Timo Gans and Michael North. My project involves using atmospheric pressure low temperature plasmas to convert carbon dioxide into carbon monoxide, which is very valuable in the chemicals industry. This method of producing carbon monoxide avoids the need for storing it in pressurised containers and only relatively non-toxic carbon dioxide needs to be stored.


PHD Student 2016Chen Geng

I am a PhD student working on micro-tearing modes in tokamak plasmas under the supervision of Prof Howard Wilson. Micro-tearing modes are small scale tearing modes driven by electron temperature gradient. They provide a source of magnetic fluctuations which could enhance thermal transports in tokamaks. These resistive instabilities are also a particularly important issue for magnetic configurations with a strong bootstrap current, as this can amplify the instability, further degrading confinement and possibly leading to a disruption. My work would focus on understanding the physics of the micro-tearing modes, especially the role of collisions. Prof Wilson and I plan to build a new model for it in a toroidal plasma geometry and extend to identify drives for the instability that could occur in future, hotter less collisional plasmas.


CDT Student Laszlo HorvathLaszlo Horvath 

The title of my project is ‘Isotope effects of the edge transport barrier of JET-ILW H-modes’. The JET tokamak is preparing to enter a phase of D-T experimental campaigns with both full tritium and deuterium-tritium operation. Together with the ITER-like combination of plasma facing components this phase will address key aspects of operation with different hydrogen isotopes and will demonstrate ITER regimes in D-T. The project will focus on the analysis of JET-ILW H-mode pedestal data collected during the 2015/16 D-D campaigns and during the later campaigns in full tritium and D-T mixtures. JET will be in an excellent position for creating a high quality confinement and profile database suitable for studying core and pedestal contributions to the global confinement, to study the isotope scaling of the pedestal structure, to investigate the inter-ELM transport and the micro turbulence limiting the pedestal gradients.


CDT Phd StudentCaroline Lumsden

I am a PhD student based at the York Plasma Institute, supervised by Dr. Andrew Higginbotham. My project focusses on x-ray scattering from high pressure liquids, and in particular using isentropic relaxation after shock compression as a method for determining the melt curve of materials at high pressures. These conditions are found in Inertial Confinement Fusion experiments and in planetary cores.


CDT Phd StudentAndrew Malcolm-Neale

Fusion CDT PhD candidate supervised by Istvan Cziegler (YPI) and Anthony Field (CCFE) having read Bsc(Hons) Logic and Philosophy of Science & Physics at Uo St Andrews and then MSc Fusion Energy at Uo York.

Sustaining core energy confinement in tokamaks continues to be bedevilled by so-called 'anomalous' particle and energy transport, which is driven by relatively poorly understood plasma turbulence. Existing designs to overcome this problem rely on engineering costly increases in scale to give more time for fusion before loss. This project is looking to inform a more physical approach by using the Beam Emission Spectrosccopy (BES) diagnostic on MAST-U to study transport and transfer in turbulence. BES looks at the formation and interaction of turbulent structures that need to be understood in order to reliably predict the performance and plasma phase of fusion machines.

We will perform experiments that can both inform and test reduced models of the complex turbulence-flow interactions at various depths of the tokamak. Detailed observations of turbulence in both the plasma core and near the edge are still lacking and so robust data will also be invaluable in validating large simulations.

A.McGannAlistair McGann

I'm working under the supervision of Prof Kieran Gibson (York Plasma Institute) and Dr Andrew Thornton (CCFE).

The exhaust of power and particle from tokamaks is of great importance to the development of a fusion power plant. The power and particles are exhausted from the tokamak into the divertor which is designed to handle the significant power loads (up to 1 GWm-2 in ITER) ejected from the plasma. One novel concept in divertor design is the Super-X divertor, where the outer leg of the divertor is extended in radius, increasing the area over which the energy is deposited thereby decreasing the heat flux to the divertor surfaces. The MAST-Upgrade facility at CCFE is equipped with a Super-X divertor and is also capable of operating with a conventional divertor allowing the effect of the Super-X divertor to be assessed for use in future devices. MAST-Upgrade will be equipped with infrared cameras to observe the strike points on the divertor and measure the heat flux fall off length. The project will require work in several different areas. Understanding of the physics of heat conduction will be required in order to convert the temperatures measured from the IR cameras into a heat flux to the divertor surface. The effect of the surface properties of the material must also be accounted for to prevent overestimation of the heat loads generated. Once the heat loads can be calculated, experimental data from MAST-U can be analysed to measure the heat fluxes for a range of plasma parameters and divertor configurations. The peak heat loads and fall off lengths in each of the configurations will be compared. These studies will be the first comparison in such a diverse range of divertor geometries and the results obtained will be tested against predictions from a range of models.

CDT Phd StudentOmkar Myatra

An important challenge that must be addressed in order to make MCF commercially viable is that of power handling. Future high power fusion devices will need to have very good energy confinement to be efficient, but good energy confinement also leads to extremely high heat loads on heat exhaust surfaces called the 'divertor targets'. A crucial though incompletely understood process is that of 'detachment', in which radiative losses and transport across the magnetic field cause the plasma to cool so strongly that ions and electrons recombine into neutrals near the divertor target. This dramatically reduces the heat loads on the surface, but needs to be better understood and controlled if it is to be used in future devices.

My project title is 'Taming the flame - Understanding how plasma transport, turbulence and atomic physics will lead to a viable heat exhaust process'. I will be based in York for the most part of this project, where Dr Ben Dudson will be my primary supervisor and Prof Bruce Lipschultz will be my secondary supervisor. I will spend at least a year at CCFE, where I will be supervised by Dr James Harrison and Dr David Moulton.

In this project I will be using high performance plasma simulation codes to study the effect of divertor geometry on divertor conditions, in particular detachment. The simulations will be used to better understand the underlying processes and to make hypotheses which can be tested experimentally, with the aim of improving our understanding of detachment.


CDT Phd StudentThomas Nicholas

One of the biggest obstacles to achieving commercial fusion energy is the excessive heat and particle fluxes that the divertor (exhaust system) of future magnetic-confinement fusion reactors will be subject to. The fluxes on this critical component are primarily determined by the transport of heat and particles in the Scrape Off Layer (SOL). This behaviour is in turn largely determined by the motions of coherent plasma structures called filaments, which are significantly more dense and hot than the surrounding plasma, and highly elongated along the magnetic field. This project involves using computer simulations to advance current understanding of the dynamics of these filaments, to gain insight into SOL turbulence and transport, and to better predict the heat fluxes on the divertor.

I will be concentrating on simulating the newly-upgraded super-X divertor configuration of MAST-U, a UK experiment at CCFE, before it begins plasma operations in 2017. I am studying under the supervision of Ben Dudson (York) and Fulvio Militello (CCFE), while primarily based at CCFE.  Funding is provided by an EPSRC iCASE award and the EPSRC Fusion CDT.


CDT Phd StudentSimon 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.


CDT Phd StudentBhavin Patel

My project is title 'In Search of Compact Routes to Fusion', which is being supervised by Dr David Dickinson and Prof. Howard Wilson.

The size of a fusion device is determined to a large extent by how effectively the deuterium-tritium mix fuel can be confined by the magnetic field. Plasma turbulence driven by small scale micro-instabilities is the main transport process that degrades confinement, and is a major driver for the size of a fusion device. In this project I will explore the impact of different magnetic topologies on the micro-instabilities, their associated turbulence and the resulting transport. We know that these are influenced by plasma flows and by a parameter called beta, which is the ratio of the thermal energy stored in the plasma to the energy in the magnetic field confining that plasma. Spherical tokamaks have a magnetic geometry that provides access to high flows and high beta, so my attention will be focused on these. Although this is largely a theoretical and computational project, that will exploit some of the largest supercomputers in the world, I will work closely with experimentalists working on the MAST-U spherical tokamak at Culham Science Centre. This will provide valuable tests of our models and predictions, and enhance the impact of our research.

Ashley Poole Ashley Poole

I am a PhD student based at the York Plasma Institute, University of York. I study temperature diagnosis of dynamically compressed systems as part of Dr. Andrew Higginbotham’s research group.

Dynamically compressed systems can be created by driving an ablator-coated material with a high power laser, such as the Vulcan laser at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, or the National Ignition Facility in the US. These high pressure systems occur naturally in the cores of massive planets and also in inertial confinement fusion experiments. Currently there is no reliable way to measure the temperature of these systems, a problem that has burdened the community for some time. We plan to devise a method of measuring their temperature by the novel application of well understood x-ray diffraction techniques.


Student Profile‌Sudha Rajendiran

I started my PhD project "Plasma enhanced pulsed laser deposition" in Dec 2013 to work under the joint supervision of Dr Erik Wagenaars and Prof. Timo Gans.

My Research work is mainly focused on the deposition of semiconductor thin film and controlling the stoichiometry of the thin film using background plasma. widely, Metal and Metal oxide thin films are used for transparent conductive film, photonics and displays, transparent conductive electrode Eg: ZnO, CuO, and ITO using different deposition techniques.  Most of the other deposition has a lack of stoichiometry control. This experimental project intends to produce stoichiometry controlled thin film and enhancement in the properties and quality of the thin film. 

Student ProfileFrederik Riedel

Profile coming soon

nullDavid Ryan

I am studying for a PhD working on a collaborative project between the University of York and the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE), supervised by Dr Yueqiang Liu at the CCFE and Dr Ben Dudson at York.

In large next generation tokamaks (ITER and beyond), short energetic plasma bursts called Edge Localised Modes (ELMs), are expected to cause heat loads high enough to melt machine components; a problem which has yet to be solved. Recent results have shown that the application of Resonant Magnetic Perturbation (RMP) fields can control or even eliminate ELMs in current tokamaks. However, the plasma has a complex response to the RMP field, and a more thorough understanding is urgently needed.

The project involves using numerical models to compute the plasma response to applied RMPs, in order to expand our understanding of how RMPs may interact with ELMs in tokamak plasmas. The numerical predictions can be compared with experimental measurements of the plasma response and ELM effects, and then more accurate predictions for planned RMP systems on future tokamaks such as ITER, can be made.


Student ProfileSandra Schröter

I am currently doing a joint PhD under supervision of Dr Deborah O’Connell (University of York) and Dr Svetlana Starikovskaya (Ecole Polytechnique, Palaiseau) in the field of low temperature atmospheric pressure plasmas. These plasmas are operating around room temperature and can be locally confined. They can produce high concentrations of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species, thus offering promising therapeutic treatments, for example in sterilisation or cancer treatment. My research focusses on the interaction of plasmas with liquids. This is of special interest since biomedical tissue like cells or DNA is usually embedded in a liquid layer, or the plasma itself is in contact with humidity from the surrounding air. A complex chemistry can be induced, which leads to the production of reactive oxygen species like atomic oxygen or hydroxyl radicals. These species can also be precursors for longer-lived species e.g. hydrogen peroxide. Using various diagnostic techniques e.g. one- and two- photon laser induced florescence and absorption spectroscopy, it is possible to quantify these species.

D.ShawDave Shaw

I am working within the low-temperature-plasma group at York and my supervisor is Dr Erik Wagenaars.

Erosion and re-deposition of (divertor) wall materials like carbon, beryllium, and tungsten is an increasing issue for tokamak devices, impacting reliable operation and performance. For example, eroded carbon materials, together with hydrogen/deuterium/tritium fuel, will form hydrocarbon (a-C:H) films which retain fusion fuel and, when deposited on in-vessel optical components of diagnostic systems, lead to a distortion of data obtained. Understanding of how these a-C:H, Be, and W films form in the low-temperature plasma conditions close to the walls and, more importantly, strategies of avoiding or removing these films in a controlled way is the topic of the project.  A specific topic of interest is cleaning of optics in the divertor region of a tokamak using low-temperature reactive plasmas. For these cleaning methods, low electron temperature and ionisation fraction are essential, and non-equilibrium plasmas are ideally suited to produce ions with controllable energy and large quantities of very reactive, neutral radical species, which interact with the a-C:H, Be, or W films on the optics, removing the deposits. The project is a combination of experiments and numerical modelling and aims at understanding the mechanisms at play in forming and removing relevant Be-, C-, and W-containing films leading to implementation of cleaning techniques in tokamaks.

C.Slade-LowtherCody Slade-Lowther

Typical plasmas are treated as (semi-)classical, with relativistic effects playing a fairly minor role. However, the use of ultra-high-intensity lasers in laser-matter interactions can result in the formation of ultra-relativistic plasmas. Here, relativistic effects strongly alter the plasma behaviour and quantum electrodynamical (QED) effects begin to become important. Under the supervision of Dr C Ridgers, the intended aim of my research is to investigate these so-called QED-plasmas and the physics of relativistic laser-plasma interactions through analytical calculations supported by computational analysis.

Student ProfileGregory Smith

I completed a Master of Physics undergraduate degree at the University of York in 2016. Now I am part of the fusion CDT programme based in York.

My work, as part of the CDT programme, is researching and developing new ways of extracting ions from a plasma for use in many applications; including next generation magnetic confinement fusion reactors, space craft propulsion, and manufacturing processes which require focused ion beams. Current methods can create high density ion sources using low temperature plasmas, but the challenge is to improve the efficiency of the extraction process. So the aim of my work is to develop innovative ways to improve the efficiency of ion extraction.

Siobhan Smith Siobhan Smith 

I am a PhD student supervised by Professor Howard Wilson and Dr Ben Dudson at York and Dr Stanislas Pamela at CCFE. My project title is “Influence of kinetic effects & magnetic fields on energy transport in high energy density plasmas”

Edge localised modes (ELMs) occur in tokamaks during the high confinement mode (H-mode) of the plasma. In H-mode there are sharp gradients in pressure and current density at the plasma edge causing instabilities. These magneto hydrodynamic instabilities trigger eruptions of filamentary structures from the plasma edge – ELMs. Whilst ELMs decrease the energy confinement within a tokamak they are beneficial in that they can remove impurities from within the plasma and control the density. ELMs release particles/energy when triggered which are transported to the divertor region within a tokamak and then to material surfaces. It is important to understand and control ELMs especially in ITER- sized tokamaks where large amounts of energy will reach the divertor plates. The large heat loads they deliver are a concern because they exceed the limits that known materials can handle. It is therefore crucial to improve our understanding of ELMs and learn how to mitigate or suppress them if ITER is to achieve its full objectives. The initial focus of my project will be to simulate ELMs in the JET tokamak, which has the same geometry as ITER, and compare with experiment to gain confidence in the results. 

Beyond ITER, there is a concern over the steady heat loads experienced by the exhaust components in designs for a demonstration reactor, DEMO. A solution to this issue could be to change the geometry of the divertor in order to reduce the heat load reaching the plates. Altering the configuration of the divertor could also have an effect on the ELMs. High performance computing provides a mechanism to explore this. The MAST tokamak is currently having a new divertor region upgrade to the Super-X configuration. This new magnetic geometry is expected to have a beneficial impact on the steady heat loads to material surfaces, but the impact on ELMs is not known. Simulations of edge localised modes in this new configuration will be conducted using BOUT ++ and the 3D nonlinear MHD code JOREK to show how the configuration will affect the ELMs. Benchmarking of the two codes will be done as well as comparisons with experiment when MAST upgrade resumes operation in 2017. 

This project will be a collaboration with Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE), supervised by Professor Howard Wilson and Dr Ben Dudson at York and Dr Stanislas Pamela at CCFE. Funding is provided by an EPSRC ICASE award and the EPSRC Fusion CDT


F.ThomasFred Thomas

I've just begun studying for a PhD in fusion reactor neutronics under the supervision of Dr. Lee Morgan (CCFE) and Dr. John Pasley (York). I am working with the Applied Radiation Physics group at CCFE. Future fusion power plants such as DEMO will produce extremely intense 14 MeV neutron fluxes, with components having to survive large lifetime fluences (time integrated flux). Work is already being conducted on modelling materials under 14 MeV neutron bombardment to discern their changing material properties. However, very limited work has been conducted on coupling neutron transport codes such as MCNP or Serpent with engineering analysis codes such as OpenFOAM or ANSYS to see what effect the neutron fluxes will have at a macroscopic or component level. This coupling of neutronics to, say, thermal hydraulics or other phenomena will constitute the start of my research.

m.thomasMatthew Thomas

I am a DTN student based at York under the supervision of Dr Roddy Vann.

My PhD will focus on the 3D simulation of microwave propagation and mode conversion in tokamaks. This work has interesting applications in many areas; specifically I will be looking at microwave mode conversion at the plasma edge which can be applied to improving theorists models of plasma H-mode formation (self insulating plasma) which currently has no satisfactory explanation. Furthermore, by 3D modelling of Bernstein wave formation in hot plasmas, one can identify how the microwave conversion from X-mode to B-mode effects the power injected into the plasma through microwaves - thus more efficient heating methods can be identified. Understanding of the Physics in these areas is highly relevant to the successful operation and development of ITER and MAST.

CDT Phd StudentWilliam Trickey

I am studying for a PhD at York University. My work involves the extreme shockwave studies for inertial fusion. Previously I studied an MPhys degree at the University of Manchester

Inertial confinement fusion has been investigated for 50 years since the invention of the laser. Two new variants are the Fast and Shock approaches to fusion. Thanks to the high gain of these methods they have useful applications in producing fusion energy. The project will examine the hydrodynamics related to the interaction between high energy, short pulse lasers and dense plasma. Experiments will be carried out at facilities around the world.

Eleanor TubmanEleanor Tubman

I am a DTN student studying at the University of York for a PhD under the supervision of Dr Nigel Woolsey. My research involves looking into magnetic reconnection where two counterstreaming plasmas meet and field lines are broken and reconnected.  Magnetic reconnection is known to occur in our universe, naturally, such as being one of the mechanisms responsible for the aurorae. High-power lasers can be used in a laboratory environment to investigate the physics of reconnection, which is where my research will be concentrated. This is an exciting area of research, where there are still many unanswered questions. 
My project has relevance to non-local thermal transport and reconnection in long length scale plasma which may occur in hohlraums (high Z materials) and direct drive shock ignition (low Z materials), extending to the transport of relativistic electrons through dense materials and the use of spectroscopy to diagnose these high energy density plasmas.


CDT PHd StudentChristopher Underwood

I am a Ph.D. student at the University of York under Dr Chris Murphy. I shall be investigating Laser Plasma interactions under new high powered laser sources. I am hoping to look at the new potential sources that this could create, and also looking into QED-Plasmas.


K.VerhaeghKevin Verhaegh

In order to obtain net power from a tokamak, the tokamak has to be made bigger than current facilities – which is partly why ITER is much larger than current tokamaks. One challenging aspect which arises in this case is that the heat loads on the materials facing the plasma become so large that no materials exist which can handle such a heat load. Therefore researching techniques to lower the heat load at the plasma facing components (commonly referred to as the divertor - a separate region where the plasma is “diverted” to and touches the plasma facing components) while maintaining a high performance in the core is essential for future tokamaks.

After completing my MScs in Science and Technology of Nuclear fusion and Applied Physics - both at Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands - I started my PhD at the University of York under supervision of Prof. Bruce Lipschultz (University of York) and Dr. Holger Remeirdes (EPFL – Lausanne). During my PhD I am based at TCV - a tokamak based at EPFL, Lausanne, Switzerland. A unique feature of TCV is that there is a lot of freedom to “shape” the plasma, which can potentially lead to lower heat loads. My job at TCV is to look at the light radiated by the plasma near the plasma facing components with a spectrometer. By doing so, we can deduce the plasma parameters at the divertor. With these parameters we can work on a better understanding of how shaping the plasma can affect the heat load. 


CDT PHd StudentSam Ward

In case you're wondering, flicking the switch on a multi-billion pound experimental nuclear reactor may not be the best idea if you're not sure what will happen! What makes things trickier is there are tonnes of characteristics and physical behaviours associated with a confined plasma that are extremely hard to measure or predict. So one of the best ways to ensure you really understand what just happened - and what may be about to happen - inside a Tokamak is to try and simulate it. So after graduating from the University of Manchester, that's why I've come to study with York - to undertake a project titled "Modelling Energetic Particles in ITER".

This project involves developing a platform which combines real data with simulations to produce analytical tools for those running the ITER tokamak. More specifically, various software and hardware architectures - both old and cutting-edge - will be explored in addition to parallel computing to make everyone's lives at ITER a bit easier! 

Michael Wigram Michael Wigram 

I graduated from the University of Manchester with an MPhys Physics degree, and am now studying for a PhD at York on the Fusion CDT programme. My PhD project is in computational modelling of magnetic confinement fusion, under the supervision of Dr Chris Ridgers and Dr Ben Dudson.

Energy transport plays a crucial role in the tokamak exhaust region - the 'Scrape-Off-Layer' where open magnetic field lines divert hot plasma leaving the tokamak core on to armour-plated regions of the wall called 'divertors'. There are technological limits to the power density which material surfaces can withstand for long times: In ITER the mitigated power load is predicted to be 10 MW/m2, comparable to the loads on jet engine turbine blades and rocket exhausts, reduced from an unmitigated surface heat flux of ~40MW/m2 which will be even greater on future demonstration fusion power plants. Predicting this heat flow is therefore crucial to the realisation of fusion energy, but energy transport parallel to the magnetic field lines in the SOL deviates strongly from 'classical' local theory. The transport becomes non-local, depending on conditions in distant regions of the plasma.

Accurately capturing non-locality is a major challenge for predictive modelling of the SOL. Ab-initio calculations of the transport testing the various heuristic non-local models currently used have rarely been performed. The aim of this project is to perform the first tests of these models with large-scale kinetic codes (BOUT++) which calculate the transport from first principles, with the intention of using the models to study the impact of non-local thermal transport on plasma detachment and other temperature dependent processes in the SOL.

nullHannah Willett

I’m a second year PhD student being supervised by Professor Kieran Gibson. My project focuses on the issue of controlling the flow of heat and particles to plasma facing materials in magnetically confined fusion devices. In tokamaks, this control is achieved by diverting plasma that escapes from the hot core to the plasma edge along open field lines into a region where the plasma can be cooled before interacting with material surfaces. This region, known as the "divertor", is a major topic of international fusion research. The York Linear Plasma Device at the York Plasma Institute can routinely produce steady state, magnetically confined plasmas with parameters relevant to the edge and divertor regions of tokamaks. My work aims to investigate a range of issues that impact the understanding of divertor physics. This includes characterizing the plasma turbulence, and considering how this turbulence is affected by plasma-neutral interactions. Electrical probe and spectroscopic measurements will be compared with a range of numerical models, notably the BOUT++ code (led by University of York staff), to improve these models thereby allowing a better tool for future reactor design.

S.WilsonSarah Wilson

I am working on my PhD under the supervision of Prof Greg Tallents on the physics of extreme ultraviolet (EUV) laser interaction with materials.  Applications include the production of warm dense matter and the ablation of high aspect ratio features  in solids.  My work will include the investigation of appropriate optics for the focusing of a capillary discharge laser at wavelength 48.9 nm and the investigation of the spectra and ion products produced when an EUV laser ablates materials.   The effect of propagation through materials on EUV beam profiles will also be studied. 

Benjamin WoodsBenjamin Woods

I am studying for a PhD under the supervision of Dr Roddy Vann at the University of York.

My project involves examining resonant instabilities from modal overlap of plasma waves with similar wavevector. These waves interact via certain non-linear processes leading to cascade destabilisation of tokamak plasmas.

I typically examine shear Alfvn eigenmodes (SAEs) existing in the mode gap. These eigenmodes enjoy non-linear interactions which lead to resonant coupling, whilst also being relatively free from continuum damping.

My end goal is to understand these instabilities better so as to improve stability of the overall tokamak plasma. This will allow for greater confinement time, less damage to the reactor, and greater efficiency, providing useful steps on the path to sustainable ignition of deuterium-tritium (D-T) fuel for tokamak fusion power.

nullAlastair Wynn

I’m a plasma strand PhD student being supervised by Prof. Bruce Lipschultz.  In general I will be studying the properties of the boundary plasma of JET using a range of diagnostics. More specifically, I will use cameras, viewing the main chamber of JET at a specific wavelength, to estimate the radial ion flux from the edge of the confined plasma to the wall of the main chamber. The objective of this research is to understand the physics governing the radial ion transport and to connect it to the erosion of main chamber surfaces, which can degrade the plasma performance.


nullXinliang Xu

In September 2011, I graduated from SICHUAN University, China, with a Masters degree in Plasma physics. My PhD at York is under the supervision of Prof Howard Wilson and Dr Benjamin Dudson. My project involves analytical theory and computational analysis on the effects how plasma rotations and other factors influence linear and non-linear processes of ELMs. By extending the code BOUT++, the result of this topic may help to mitigate the ELMs.