Physics Colloquium: Dr. Felix Parra Diaz, Theory and computation of magnetic confinement fusion
Dr. Felix Parra Diaz
Professor and Head of the Theory Department
Professor of Astrophysical Science
Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory
Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
Theory and computation of magnetic confinement fusion
Fusion energy is a promising technology: safe, based on abundant fuel, with no waste legacy and minimal land use. Due to the climate emergency, it has recently attracted much public attention and private funding. For efficient energy production, the right mixture of hydrogen isotopes must be heated to temperatures ten times larger than the temperature of the sun core. This is a grand technological and physics challenge in which we have made great progress. The most advanced concept for energy production is magnetic confinement fusion, an approach that utilizes large electromagnets to confine the hydrogen and powerful beams and radiofrequency emitters to heat it up. This talk will describe the principles behind magnetic confinement fusion and its two most illustrious representatives: the tokamak and the stellarator. The talk will emphasize the importance of theoretical and computational tools in the development of these concepts by describing how the community models energy losses in these systems then and uses these models to design better machines.