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Francesca Cella - MSc thesis at IPFN

A great opportunity

Hello to everyone! I am Francesca, a student of Nuclear Engineering at Politecnico of Milan, Italy. I just came back home from Lisbon, Portugal, because, thanks to the FuseNet support for master internship, I had the opportunity to develop my master thesis project in the ‘Theory and modelling’ group of IPFN (Instituto de Plasmas e Fusão Nuclear) at IST. Polimi has only recently started to investigate in fusion field, while, in IPFN, I joined a consolidated group who gave me the opportunity to dive in the world of theoretical research. This experience enriched me a lot, from both the academic and personal point of view, and I hope to be able to share at home what I learned.

The project

My focus was on the study of Alfvénic instabilities in fusion plasmas. This kind of instability can cause energetic-particle redistribution that could be detrimental for tokamak operation. Understanding the equilibrium conditions that admit Alfvénic modes and what particles can drive them unstable is fundamental to confine and ignite a fusion plasma.

We proceeded analytically and numerically, exploiting the linearized MHD model to analyse the branch coupling phenomenon and a hybrid MHD-kinetic one to evaluate the wave-particles energy transfer. We concluded that an elongated plasma presents a wider spectrum of excitable eigenmodes even in the low frequency range.

Lisbon, the city with two souls

Although the advanced research carried on in the technical universities and the experimentations performed in almost every cultural discipline, Lisbon shows an ancient living soul. There are neighbourhoods in which time seems that had stopped fifty years ago, compared to others European metropolis. People seated in the street, little familiar shops, ‘tascas’, colourful buildings anchored to the steep hills, silence. The hanging time, the special light, the characteristic smells and the breathtaking views build a unique atmosphere that deeply touches and comfort you. Moreover, nights are filled with every kind of sounds. I guess it is hard to not feel in love with it, surely, I did. The amount of people that welcomed me and share with me so many situations, of course, played a big role in enforcing this affection and let me now feel ‘saudade’, the untranslatable Portuguese feeling, similar to nostalgia. While I will carry with me all these feelings, I sincerely hope that the advance of modernity and mass tourism will not destruct Lisbon’s soul.

I really thank the Eurofusion program that funded this project. It was an unforgettable school of physics and life.

- Francesca Cella