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Fusion PhD Student Blogs

Click on the photo of one of these PhD students to see their blog. Do you want to join this club? Email

Emelie NilssonAndrea ImpagnatielloMerlijn JakobsValentin    Aslanyan

Jonathan     ShimwellFrancisco Calderon

An ending and a beginning

After many months of work, I managed finally to hand in, defend and correct my PhD thesis. Writing up was a tough slog and I’ve given up counting the number of commas I’ve had to put in or take out of the final work. After finishing the write-up in February, I made one final trip to Colorado to get everything ready for the next PhD students and postdoc who will work on this project (taking up the position at York instead of me).

Homemade cross section plotter for nuclear data

I have been tinkering with nuclear data and created a little website.

The aim was to make plotting nuclear data much easier than existing solutions and hopefully more accessable to a wide audience.

Cross sections from different evaluations ((JENL, TENDL, JEFF, ENDF, CENDL, EAF, JENDL) can be plotted alongside experimental results from EXFOR

I have attached an plot showing a few reactions important for tritium production and neutron multiplication in solid breeder blankets.

Academic Year++

Another academic year is about to begin; as we greet some eager new PhD students, it's time to reflect on the past and look to the future. Last year I went to Colorado again, getting some vital data for my own PhD thesis, as well as continuing work on the electronics systems of their capillary discharge laser. A useful endeavour, it turns out, as the University of York has just agreed to buy one and I've accepted a 6 month post-doctoral position to commission it.

“Go big or go home” in the world of fusion

Over the past year or so, we have seen massive strides in the construction of ITER, which we are sure will bring long (up to half an hour is a long time in plasma physics!) periods of net energy gain from fusion. The NIF (America's National Ignition Facility laser fusion experiment) has also made some significant progress. But as we see the building which will surround ITER's beating toroidal heart rise from the ground, I've noticed a somewhat troubling trend elsewhere.

The Mad Scientist

This is a photo of my desk. Yes, I’m proud of this mess.

Because there are relevant advantages for this:

1 year has passed; a retrospect!

One year has passed, which feels like a lifetime. I worked pretty hard and was fortunate to visit some countries in the meantime. It’s quite a lot to tell in one blog, so this is PART 1.


To start off with, I finished my experiments on the damage of ‘unipolar arcing’, i.e. discharges between the plasma and the fusion exhaust system - the divertor. I was proud to present my work at the Plasma Surface Interaction conference in Kanazawa, Japan this year.

The Queen of the Sea - Report of Lisbon, 2014 Fusenet PhD event

The 2014 edition of the Fusenet PhD event was in Lisbon and so I took the chance to visit the European capital called also the Queen of the Sea.

I didn’t have high expectations, Lisbon isn’t as I know at the first choices for a trip in Europe but never less the low cost airplane, a Boeing (so big), was full. Maybe because the ticket was less expensive than a rail trip from Manchester to Birmingham, or maybe because the city has a particular mystery that attracts people from over the world, even from Australia.

FuseNet PhD event 2014

I just returned home from the fourth annual FuseNet PhD event, organized at IST this year in Lisbon. I presented a poster about some planned future laser-plasma experiments and heard the latest developments by other PhD students working in fusion-related fields. The conference was also a good chance to catch up and network with my peers.

Wedding - The Fusion of Two People

Six FuseNet students and one bride

A Tale of Two Conferences

It has been some time since my last blog post; I've been busy. After returning from my collaboratory, I set about busily preparing for the month ahead. I made modifications to my computer code, extending it into a spatial dimension and promptly set one of our institute's computer clusters running it.

Back from America

In front of the laser; on the USB drive: Fusion Doctoral Training Network

Term's gone, it’s time to Fuse some music!

It is the end of the second term here at Warwick University and so many cool things just happened. We will go briefly on how I got my Visa renewed, and why applying to funds comes handy when money is short, and finally that life is music, as the second term was the remarkable conclusion of a hard work concert that is called Warwick Fused.

Unipolar arcs in fusion reactors - problem or not?

Hi again! Here is a new blog, now as an actual PhD student. Since my last blog a lot has happened. First of all, my PhD supervisor decided to switch jobs and is going to work for ITER. While the institute searches for a new supervisor, I am mainly publishing/presenting my old work of my Master’s thesis project. This research was about discharges (currents) that flow between the plasma and the divertor (exhaust) wall  of a tokamak.

Finding a balance.

Hi all


Now my leaky fusion reactor is all patched up and the neutrons are behaving themselves I'm ready to go. So I've been sendings neutrons flying in all directions for the past week. I’ve also been checking up on them and seeing what they get up to. Generally the neutrons do one of three things,


Most react with lithium to make tritium. smiley

The dawn of metallurgy


Hands on adventures

The last few weeks my workplace was invaded by a pack of fusion master students from the Erasmus Mundus Fusion master program. Their mission was to get an insight in what it's like to work as a fusion scientist. I was helping out with an experiment on the technology behind lower hybrid (LH) current drive, a topic I focused on during my master thesis, that I did here at CEA Cadarache. Momentum transfer to the electrons in the plasma through the LH wave is the most efficient method to drive a current in a tokamak plasma which is absolutely necessary for steady state operation.

Collaboration with a College in Colorado

So, a couple of months later and my paper has been submitted for peer review, I've presented my results at a conference and I have another nice few pages of my thesis written. Now, I've been given the chance, by Fusenet, to do something quite radically different.

Let the Phun begin

After spending a the major part of my Master’s abroad (USA/Korea), I decided to settle down in my home country the Netherlands for a while. I applied for a PhD position at the Dutch Institute for Fundamental Energy Research (DIFFER) in Utrecht to work on the synthesis of exotic nanostructures on carbon under extreme plasma conditions.

National Ignition Facility physicists are reporting their results formally

Although I have a 'preference' in Fusion for magnetically confined plasmas rather than the Inertially confined path, I keep a great interest in ICF (another pet for Inertially Confined Fusion).


As long as the plasma does not...

Today I will introduce you to the wild Universe of Plasma Wall Interaction, or PWI (you know that physicists like to call their pets with nicknames). As long as the plasma does not go in contact with any material everything is terrific but when it gets close to any type of matter, things get complicated.