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Magnetic Confinement Fusion


In magnetic confinement fusion (MCF), the fuel (deuterium and tritium) is heated to a temperature which is ten times that at the centre of the Sun. It is then an ionised gas: a state of matter referred to as a plasma. We confine this plasma, holding it away from material surfaces (which would otherwise suffer serious damage) by a combination of magnetic fields in a toroidal (doughnut-shaped) geometry. The device we are particularly interested in, and that which shows most promise for fusion, is the tokamak.

Our research, which is funded mainly through EPSRC, is strongly linked to the UK's national fusion research programme at the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE) and, indeed, several of our PhD students are based at Culham Science Centre. We place a particular emphasis on topics which are both relevant for fusion energy production and involve interesting, novel basic plasma science. In particular, our work is very much focussed on the key issues that need to be addressed for the international ITER tokamak, presently under construction in the South of France and due for completion in the middle of the 2020's.