skip to main content

SciTech ConnectSciTech Connect

Title: Bridging the PSI Knowledge Gap: A Multi-Scale Approach

Plasma-surface interactions (PSI) pose an immense scientific hurdle in magnetic confinement fusion and our present understanding of PSI in confinement environments is highly inadequate; indeed, a recent Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee report found that 4 out of the 5 top five fusion knowledge gaps were related to PSI. The time is appropriate to develop a concentrated and synergistic science effort that would expand, exploit and integrate the wealth of laboratory ion-beam and plasma research, as well as exciting new computational tools, towards the goal of bridging the PSI knowledge gap. This effort would broadly advance plasma and material sciences, while providing critical knowledge towards progress in fusion PSI. This project involves the development of a Science Center focused on a new approach to PSI science; an approach that both exploits access to state-of-the-art PSI experiments and modeling, as well as confinement devices. The organizing principle is to develop synergistic experimental and modeling tools that treat the truly coupled multi-scale aspect of the PSI issues in confinement devices. This is motivated by the simple observation that while typical lab experiments and models allow independent manipulation of controlling variables, the confinement PSI environment is essentially self-determined with few outside controls. Thismore » means that processes that may be treated independently in laboratory experiments, because they involve vastly different physical and time scales, will now affect one another in the confinement environment. Also, lab experiments cannot simultaneously match all exposure conditions found in confinement devices typically forcing a linear extrapolation of lab results. At the same time programmatic limitations prevent confinement experiments alone from answering many key PSI questions. The resolution to this problem is to usefully exploit access to PSI science in lab devices, while retooling our thinking from a linear and de-coupled extrapolation to a multi-scale, coupled approach. The PSI Plasma Center consisted of three equal co-centers; one located at the MIT Plasma Science and Fusion Center, one at UC San Diego Center for Energy Research and one at the UC Berkeley Department of Nuclear Engineering, which moved to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK) with Professor Brian Wirth in July 2010. The Center had three co-directors: Prof. Dennis Whyte led the MIT co-center, the UCSD co-center was led by Dr. Russell Doerner, and Prof. Brian Wirth led the UCB/UTK center. The directors have extensive experience in PSI and material research, and have been internationally recognized in the magnetic fusion, materials and plasma research fields. The co-centers feature keystone PSI experimental and modeling facilities dedicated to PSI science: the DIONISOS/CLASS facility at MIT, the PISCES facility at UCSD, and the state-of-the-art numerical modeling capabilities at UCB/UTK. A collaborative partner in the center is Sandia National Laboratory at Livermore (SNL/CA), which has extensive capabilities with low energy ion beams and surface diagnostics, as well as supporting plasma facilities, including the Tritium Plasma Experiment, all of which significantly augment the Center. Interpretive, continuum material models are available through SNL/CA, UCSD and MIT. The participating institutions of MIT, UCSD, UCB/UTK, SNL/CA and LLNL brought a formidable array of experimental tools and personnel abilities into the PSI Plasma Center. Our work has focused on modeling activities associated with plasma surface interactions that are involved in effects of He and H plasma bombardment on tungsten surfaces. This involved performing computational material modeling of the surface evolution during plasma bombardment using molecular dynamics modeling. The principal outcomes of the research efforts within the combined experimental – modeling PSI center are to provide a knowledgebase of the mechanisms of surface degradation, and the influence of the surface on plasma conditions.« less
  1. Univ. of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Univ. of California, Berkeley, CA (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Fusion Energy Sciences (FES) (SC-24)
Country of Publication:
United States