I am interested in the physics of magnetised high energy density plasmas. The MAGPIE pulsed power facility is capable of producing hot, dense, fast moving plasmas with strong embedded magnetic fields. This provides a versatile platform to study several interesting effects, such as:
- Magnetic Reconnection. When two plasmas with oppositely directed magnetic fields collide, a current sheet is generated which causes a topological rearrangement of the field lines, and dissipates magnetic energy in the form of kinetic and thermal energy in the plasma. The speed of this process, its stability, the partition of energy between electrons and ions and the role of 3D effects are all open questions which we hope to study.
- Magnetised Turbulence. Fluid turbulence is a familiar, but bewildering topic in which fluid motions are present over a wide range of spatial scales. In a plasma, magnetic fields lend increased complexity as they are twisted and sheared by the plasma motion. This can lead to the amplification of the magnetic field by the turbulent dynamo, and the destruction of the field by magnetic reconnection over a wide range of spatial scales.
Magnetised high energy density plasmas are relevant to the physics of astrophysical systems, which we can study by the appropriate scaling of the experimental parameters in the laboratory. Turbulence also occurs ubiquitously in fusion plasmas, where it can cause enhanced transport which rapidly cools the plasma so it can no longer sustain fusion. Understanding and controlling turbulence in this context would be a step towards economically viable fusion power.