Topic: Fusion



Date: Saturday, May 27, 2023 - 10:30-13:30

Venue: Martin Wood Lecture Theatre, Clarendon Laboratory


michael barnes

Prof Michael Barnes

'Magnetic confinement fusion: Science that’s hotter than a Kardashian Instagram post'

One gram of hydrogen at 100 million degrees for 1 second: This is (roughly) what is needed to produce net energy from magnetic confinement fusion. Scientists have been working towards this goal for over half a century, applying strong magnetic fields to contain a hot, ionised gas long enough for a significant number of fusion reactions to occur. However, there has been a recent surge in interest and optimism surrounding fusion as a terrestrial energy source. In this talk I will introduce the basic concepts behind magnetic confinement fusion, describe why it is so challenging and discuss possibilities for the future.




georgia acton

Georgia Acton

Stellarators: twisty tokamaks that could be the future of fusion

Tokamaks have been at the forefront of fusion research for the last 50 years. Despite significant improvements over this time we have yet to produce a device that is a sustainable, reliable power source capable of net energy output. In this talk I hope to convince you that stellarators are the future of fusion, capable of overcoming many of the fundamental problems of tokamaks; crucially offering a reliable and continuously operating source of fusion power that can be used to power humanity forward. I will introduce stellarators, discuss the features that distinguish them from tokamaks, highlight the challenges we currently face, and discuss how we might overcome them.




archie bott

Dr Archie Bott

'How the weird and wonderful properties of magnetised laser plasmas could ignite fusion-energy research'

One key scientific breakthrough of 2022 was the achievement of fusion ignition; using the world’s largest laser facility, physicists created a plasma in which nuclear fusion reactions generated around 50% more energy than the laser energy required to get those reactions going. Arguably the hottest question in laser fusion-energy research right now is how to surpass this result. In this talk, I will explain how one of the most promising schemes for doing so relies on a novel feature of hot laser-plasmas: introducing a magnetic field of the correct strength alters the plasma’s fundamental properties — for example, the thermal conductivity — in a highly counterintuitive yet ultimately beneficial manner.