Marius Constantin, 2014, Physics
During the summer of 2013 I interned at PPPL, one of the world’s leading laboratories in the field of fusion energy research specializing in tokamak reactors. As the scale of the reactor experiments increases, one of the key challenges that presents itself is the controlled cooling of the plasma layer that is the closest to the reactor wall. Under the guidance of Professor Robert J. Goldston, my co-intern and I took a step in addressing this challenge by focusing on the charge exchange processes between neutral deuterium and ionized lithium, which coexist inside the plasma. We found that although these processes did not significantly alter the cooling rate in the temperature and density regimes of current experiments, they could provide the dominant cooling mechanism for experiments operating at the parameters required to make fusion a viable energy source. Building on previous knowledge from the “Science and Technology of Nuclear Energy class,” I gained valuable insights into how numerical simulations, scaling laws, and heuristics can become powerful tools in pushing the boundary of fusion energy research. Moreover, this internship gave me the opportunity to work within an exceptional community of scholars, and it reinforced my aspiration to pursue a career in applied physics.