Plasma Micro-Turbulence

In order to make fusion energy available to the world, the physics basis of heat and particle losses in magnetic-confinement fusion reactors needs to be well-understood. Even when plasmas are in equilibrium with respect to large-scale MHD modes, they remain subject to micro-scale instabilities and ensuant turbulence.

Our task is to understand the instability process, the mechanism by which modes saturate, and how to control both aspects. The aim is to reliably predict and ultimately improve energy and particle confinement, such that fusion reactor performance is improved.

Employing both analytical models and massively parallel simulations on some of the world's largest supercomputers, we use gyrokinetic theory to probe all aspects of plasma turbulence. A multitude of instability regimes - such as ion-temperature-gradient, trapped-electron, kinetic-ballooning, or microtearing modes - is the subject of our research, and the knowledge gained in these studies is then leveraged to better understand the distinct confinement properties in different reactor types, from tokamaks to stellarators to reversed-field pinches.

Furthermore, we investigate linear and nonlinear plasma phenomena in other experiments, e.g. in linear devices, as well as in nature - think space and astrophysical plasmas. By testing our theories and models against such observations, we can both make advances in fascinating fundamental science and, at the same time, gain greater confidence that our predictions for the next generation of fusion devices are indeed accurate.

Our team is comprised of a diverse group of people working on a broad spectrum of projects, in collaboration with other scientists at many international institutions. The group is headed by theoretical plasma physicist Dr. M.J. Pueschel. Those interested in joining our group to work on new and exciting research topics, be it as a graduate student or a post-doctoral researcher, are encouraged to contact DIFFER.

Wandering of magnetic field lines due to turbulent fluctuations in a plasma.
Wandering of magnetic field lines due to turbulent fluctuations in a plasma.