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Eye witness report from the Hands-On PlasmaLab@TU/e Course 2012, part 3

FUSENET sponsors the Hands-On PlasmaLab@TU/e course in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. Three of the students present, Michal, Pericles and Catarina, report:

This day started as usually. It took half an hour to get to the university by bus. We arrived there at 9am and after a not so short delay we started with measurements. Our task for this day was to operate the fusor: a small plasma device, capable of creating fusion reactions in laboratory conditions, and see if we could determine the temperature and density of the plasma.

Although our fusor did not have the high voltage supply needed to produce significant fusion neutrons, we still could do interesting experiments. Another reason why fusion was not achievable, was that the filling-gas was Argon... not a mixture of tritium and deuterium.

Argon plasmas were achieved in a spherical vacuum vessel evacuated by a turbo pump. The measurement was going smoothly till we realized that all measured values came from background light in the room and not from the plasma...! Then, as a consequence we had to significantly improve our light collection system in order to eliminate the stray-light and obtain useful measurements with our spectrometer.

At midday we had a lunch in local canteen. We got a typical Dutch lunch, chicken soup and some sandwiches with milk and orange juice (delicious...). After a fruitful discussion about the future and others stuffs, we have slowly moved back to the laboratory and continued with our experiment.

Finally, after a few hours of trying, our improvements led to reasonable results and we estimated the temperature of the fast ions in the fusor device. Moreover, we were able to measure the light emissivity profile of the plasma, from which we can deduce the plasma line integrated density.

We were not able to optimize the amount of nuclear fusion reactions, because we were forced to leave the laboratory at 6pm!!! We are very thankful for the help of Roger, who introduced us to the theory behind the fusor device and who was supportive during the measurements. Overall, it was a pleasant experience to learn about the fusor and sharing the knowledge we had within our group.

Catarina (Portugal)
Pericles (Brasil)
Michal (Czech Republic)