2020 Nuclear Fusion journal award to paper with UCSD participation

January 2021

The paper presenting ‘Results from recent detachment experiments in alternative divertor configurations on TCV’ received the IAEA's Nuclear Fusion Journal Award 2020. The award acknowledges the first author, C. Theiler and an international team of researchers that include UCSD researchers J. Boedo and C. Tsui, who provided critical data and analysis for the work and analysis of the work as part of an international collaboration supported by the US Department of Energy (DOE). The research team also includes researchers from the Swiss Plasma Center (SPC), took University (UK), Culham Science Center (UK), DIFFER (Netehrlands), Consorzio RFX (Italy) and Max Planck Instituk Fur Plasmaphysik (Germany) as well as other laboratories of the European EUROfusion consortium. 

Relevance of the work

This Prize recognizes the importance of understanding the physics of controlling the impingement to the enormous heat flux that is contained in fusion devices onto the device’s walls.

Existing fusion devices confine high temperature plasmas (150 million degrees) with magnetic fields that are shaped like a donut but some fraction of the particles and heat escape the containment fields and impact the walls. The heat flux to the walls can reach 100 MW/m^2 and thus surpass the technological capability to withstand it, resulting in wall failure. To do so, new techniques are being developed which include a combination of magnetic configurations (called a divertor), creating a dissipative environment, and the use of innovative high temperature materials.

Various techniques are being considered and studied in laboratories around the world:

-A combination of magnetic configurations and advanced materials to reduce the heat flux.
-Using gases to dissipate the impinging energy to the divertor and dissipate it as radiation or into a neutral gas “cushion”.

When this technique reduces the heat flux to low values at the wall, the plasma is “detached”. 

The awarded work presents extensive measurements and analysis to understand the fundamental physics behind the detachment process.

The NF Award (from NF website)

The Nuclear Fusion Award celebrates papers of the highest scientific standard that make a significant contribution to their field. Nominations are based on citation record and recommendation by the Board of Editors. The winner, selected by secret ballot, is the one judged to have made the greatest scientific impact.

Image above: UCSD/CER has installed diagnostics at TCV that were critical for the NF paper. Dr. Tsui stands next to the UCSD scanning probe
Image below: UCSD /CER researchers J. Boedo (right) and C. Tsui (left) are collaborators at the TCV tokamak.