Elijah Kolmes, 2015, Physics

The primary goal of my internship at PPPL was to study fast ion slowing-down rates in a background plasma. I used software called LSP to simulate fast ions slowing down under the conditions that might be found in a field-reversed configuration (FRC) device. FRCs are a potential alternative to the mainline approach to magnetic confinement, with a couple of significant advantages. Fast ion slowing-down is important to the performance of these devices. I measured the dependence of the slowing-down rate on a number of factors, including the charge of the fast ions and the density of the plasma. I also investigated a couple of different properties of the simulation software itself. In particular, LSP simplifies physical systems by clumping together individual particles into macroparticles, and I studied the implications that this had for our results. During this summer, I learned a great deal about computational plasma physics, and about scientific research in general. This project has reinforced my interest in pursuing physics research in the future.