Elizabeth Paul, 2015, Astrophysical Sciences

Nuclear fusion has long been regarded as a potential alternative to fossil fuels and a technology that could ensure a safe energy future. An advanced fuel fusion reactor, the Field Reversed Configuration, is especially promising as it is smaller and cleaner than the more widely studied tokamak. My project explored the transfer of energy between the very energetic particles produced in the fusion reaction and the plasma in the scrape-off layer, the relatively thin outer layer of the reactor. By the end of the summer I began to understand how to optimize the simulation of this process, and explored new methods of energy dissipation, such as through excitation of plasma waves. As a result of this project,,I gained valuable skills in running and debugging plasma simulations software, data analysis, and navigation of scientific literature. More importantly, my research experience piqued my interest in computation physics and provided me with an appreciation for the interesting physics involved in the study of plasmas and fusion.