The Centre for Inertial Fusion Studies (CIFS)

Centre Directors: Professor Jeremy Chittenden, Professor Steve Rose

The Centre provides a focus for research activities in Inertial Confinement Fusion (ICF) and related High Energy Density Physics as well as exploring the use of Inertial Fusion for energy production.

We have strong collaborations with groups working on ICF in the US at Lawrence Livermore, Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratories as well as the University of Rochester Laboratory for Laser Energetics and MIT. We also work closely on HEDP projects with groups in the UK at AWE Aldermaston, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and the Universities of Oxford, York and Warwick

CIFS is also engaged in promoting the use of the Orion laser as a world class facility for fundamental scientific research through the Orion academic access programme

NEWS - read about the announcement of results approaching Ignition on the National Ignition Facility on the BBC and Imperial College web sites.



Inertial Confinement Fusion & High Energy Density Physics research activities of CIFS affiliated members:

Dr. Brian Appelbe 
Research interests include inertial and magneto-inertial confinement fusion and the use of dense plasmas as a neutron source.

Niki Chaturvedi 
Research interests include mesh refinement techniques for high fidelity simulations of HED (high energy density) plasmas in inertial fusion systems

Prof. Jeremy Chittenden
Research interests include the physics of dense plasmas, inertial confinement fusion, magnetised liner fusion, fusion ignition and burning plasmas.

Dr. Aidan Crilly
Research interests include understanding the limitations to hotspot confinement by exploiting multiple synthetic diagnostic methods.

Colin Danson 
Background in the construction & operation of ultra-high power Nd:glass lasers, including Vulcan and Orion. In his role as Plasma Physics Outreach and Academic Access Manager, Colin co-ordinates AWE's activities within CIFS.

Griffin Farrow
Research interests include extended MHD, magnetised transport and kinetic modelling of high energy density plasmas.

Adam Fraser 
Research interests include the development of self-consistent micro-physics models for materials at high energy density, with application in the numerical modelling of high energy density plasmas.

Dr. Matthew Hill 
Research interests include particle beam generation by laser-matter interactions and their use in generating and diagnosing high energy-density plasmas.

Dr. David Hillier 
Research interests include the design, development and operation of ultra-high power lasers; implementing high contrast options on Orion to enable world leading performance of its petawatt beamlines.

Kyle McLean
Research interests include probing the role of intense radiation fields in High Energy Density environments, such as those found in astrophysics and in ICF experiments. This involves a consideration of radiative transport and calculations of radiative opacity in environments of high temperatures and densities.

Philip Moloney
Research interests include MHD modelling of direct drive inertial fusion experiments and reduced modelling of laser plasma interactions for radiation hydrodynamics codes.

Dr. Nicolas Niasse
Research interests include inertial confinement fusion, magneto-inertial confinement fusion and radiation physics of high energy density plasmas.

Sam O'Neill
Research interests include numerical modelling of ignition and burn in indirect drive ICF, with a particular interest in magnetically-assisted ICF.

James Pecover

Research interests in numerical simulation of magnetised liner inertial fusion, specifically development of azimuthal correlation and the growth & mitigation of instabilities.

Prof. Andrew Randewich
Background in magnetic fusion and space plasma physics. Andrew is Chief Scientist at AWE and formally Head of Plasma Physics where he focussed on high energy density physics and managing facilities such as the Orion laser and ASP neutron accelerator.

Prof. Steven Rose
Research interests in theoretical atomic and radiation physics of high energy density plasmas, particularly in relation to laboratory astrophysics and inertial confinement fusion.

Dr. Mark Sherlock
Research interests in kinetic modelling of high energy density plasmas relevant to ICF

Jon Tong
Research interests include studying hotspot energy balance and alpha particle heating as well as ignition and burn in inhomogeneous ICF plasmas.

Dr. Arthur Turrell
Research interests include inertial confinement fusion and processes driving non-Maxwellian distributions in plasmas, particularly large-angle collisions and inverse bremsstrahlung absorption.

Dr. Christopher Walsh
Research interests include the effects of applied and self generated magnetic fields on heat transport and ignition in ICF hotspots.

Inertial Confinement Fusion and High Energy Density Physics facilities

As part of our research we collaborate with groups working on some of the largest experimental physics facilities in the world.
These include;

the National Ignition Facility,
a 2MJ laser based at Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, used for indirect drive ICF and fundamental HEDP research

the ZR generator,
a 24MA pulsed power generator laser based at Sandia National Laboratory, used for magnetic drive ICF and fundamental HEDP research

the Omega laser,
a 40KJ laser based at the University of Rochester, Laboratory for Laser Energetics, used for direct drive ICF and fundamental HEDP research

and the Orion laser facility,
a combined system of 10 long pulse and 2 peta-watt short pulse lasers used for defence science as well as academic research.

Academic Access on High Energy Density Physics facilities

Up to 15% of system time on the Orion laser is available to academic groups for fundamental scientific research. Details of the application procedure are on the Orion website.
The academic community has recently been invited to submit proposals for experiments to be performed on the LMJ/PETAL laser facility starting in 2017. Details of see the application process are available on the Intitut de Laser et Plasma website.
The SGII laser facility in Shanghai, also invites applications for fundamental science research from universities and institutes all over the world. Details of see the application process are available on the SIOM website. 

Recent News in ICF research

National Ignition Facility results approach Ignition

On August the 8th 2021, an experiment on the National Ignition Facility achieved a fusion yield of roughly 1.3 MJ. At this energy level, there are sufficient numbers of alpha particles from fusion reactions to significantly raise the plasma temperature giving rise to higher fusion reaction rates. This is start of the 'ignition' process which substantially amplifies the fusion energy produced.

Further details of this result can be found in a number of news articles, including those on the BBC and Imperial College web sites.

New Fusion Output Landmark at the National Ignition Facility

In 2017 the National Ignition Facility achieved its highest performance experiment, yielding 1.9x1016 neutrons (corresponding to 54kJ of fusion energy). This sees the fusion energy exceed the kinetic energy of the imploding shell for the first time. Nonetheless, large gains are still required for the fusion energy to exceed the energy put into the experiment by the 1.8MJ laser. The fuel self-heating is now thought to be larger than the heating from external sources, suggesting that the experiments are close to the 'ignition cliff', where small improvements in implosion quality can give large increases in performance.

The recent improvements are largely down to a change in ablator material from plastic to high-density carbon, which allows more energy to be coupled from the laser to the capsule without increasing the damaging drive asymmetry. More information can be found in Sebastien Le Pape's June 2018 paper published in Physical Review Letters.

LMJ programme profiled in Science

Science magazine highlights the ICF programme at LMJ.

Current PhD opportunities

ICF & HEDP meetings

  • IFSA 2017 International Conference on Inertial Fusion Sciences and Applications
  • APS-DPP 2017 American Physical Society Division of Plasma Physics annual meeting
  • ICHED 2017 International Conference on High Energy Density Physics
  • DDFIW-2017,  13th Direct Drive Fast Ignition Workshop Salamanca,Spain, March 22-24
  • DZP 2017, 10th International Conference on Dense Z-Pinches, Lake Tahoe August 13-17

CIFS' Royal Society Summer Science exhibit 2014

Set the controls for the heart of the Sun

The SunScientists from the Centre for Inertial Fusion Studies exhibited their research at the Royal Society's Summer Science Exhibition 2014 in London. The exhibit was called Set the controls for the heart of the Sunand explained our work on recreating the conditions inside stars in the laboratory. The event provided the opportunity to meet, and informally chat with, scientists from CIFS, as well as from other cutting edge research projects around the UK.

What was the exhibit about?
Using one of the world’s newest and most powerful lasers, the Orion laser at AWE Aldermaston, researchers are close to being able to recreate the conditions inside the core of the Sun. A combination of laser pulses, lasting for just a fraction of a second, is fired at an area 10,000 times smaller than a pin-head, producing temperatures of millions of degrees at more than ten times the density of water. These conditions are getting closer to the conditions in the centre of the Sun, and many other stars in the Universe. The experiments help us understand how energy is transported around the Sun.

Tell me more...

Recent Papers

  • H. Sio, J. D. Moody, et. al. Diagnosing plasma magnetization in inertial confinement fusion implosions using secondary deuterium-tritium reactions. REVIEW OF SCIENTIFIC INSTRUMENTS, 92(4), (2021). doi:10.1063/5.0043381
  • B. Appelbe, A. L. Velikovich, M. Sherlock, C. Walsh, A. Crilly, S. O'Neill & J. Chittenden, Magnetic field transport in propagating thermonuclear burn. Physics of Plasmas, 28(3), (2021) doi:10.1063/5.0040161
  • A. J. Crilly, B. D. Appelbe, O. M. Mannion, C. J. Forrest & J. P. Chittenden. The effect of areal density asymmetries on scattered neutron spectra in ICF implosions. Physics of Plasmas, 28(2), (2021) doi:10.1063/5.0038752
  • C. A. Walsh, A. J. Crilly & J. P. Chittenden. Magnetized directly-driven ICF capsules: increased instability growth from non-uniform laser drive. Nuclear Fusion, 60(10), (2020) doi:10.1088/1741-4326/abab52
  • Campbell, P. T., Walsh, C. A., Russell, B. K., J. P. Chittenden, A. Crilly, , G. Fiksel, L. Willingale,. Magnetic Signatures of Radiation-Driven Double Ablation Fronts. PRL, 125(14) (2020) doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.125.145001
  • M. Gatu Johnson, P. J. Adrian, K. S. Anderson, B. D. Appelbe, J. P. Chittenden, A. J. Crilly, et. al.. Impact of stalk on directly driven inertial confinement fusion implosions. Physics of Plasmas, 27(3), (2020). doi:10.1063/1.5141607
  • P. L. Volegov, S. H. Batha, V. Geppert-Kleinrath, et. al. Density determination of the thermonuclear fuel region in inertial confinement fusion implosions. Journal of Applied Physics, 127(8), (2020). doi:10.1063/1.5123751
  • C. A. Walsh, J. P. Chittenden, D. W. Hill & C. Ridgers. Extended-magnetohydrodynamics in under-dense plasmas. Physics of Plasmas, 27(2), (2020) doi:10.1063/1.5124144
  • A. J. Crilly, B. D. Appelbe, O. M. Mannion, C. J. Forrest, V. Gopalaswamy, C. A. Walsh, & J. P. Chittenden. Neutron backscatter edge: A measure of the hydrodynamic properties of the dense DT fuel at stagnation in ICF experiments. Physics of Plasmas, 27(1), (2020) doi:10.1063/1.5128830
  • B., Appelbe, M., Sherlock, O., El-Amiri, C., Walsh, & J. Chittenden. Modification of classical electron transport due to collisions between electrons and fast ions. Physics of Plasmas, 26(10), (2019) doi:10.1063/1.5114794
  • J. K. Tong, K. McGlinchey, B. D. Appelbe, C. A. Walsh, A. J. Crilly & J. P. Chittenden. Burn regimes in the hydrodynamic scaling of perturbed inertial confinement fusion hotspots. Nuclear Fusion, 59(8), (2019) doi:10.1088/1741-4326/ab22d4
  • M. G., Johnson, B. D., Appelbe, J. P. Chittenden, A. Crilly, et. al. Impact of imposed mode 2 laser drive asymmetry on inertial confinement fusion implosions. Physics of Plasmas, 26(1), (2019) doi:10.1063/1.5066435
  • K. McGlinchey, et alDiagnostic signatures of performance degrading perturbations in inertial confinement fusion implosions Physics of Plasmas 25, 122705 (2018) DOI: 10.1063/1.5064504
  • A. J. Crilly, et alSynthetic nuclear diagnostics for inferring plasma properties of inertial confinement fusion implosions Physics of Plasmas 25, 122703 (2018) DOI: 10.1063/1.5027462
  • C. A. Walsh, et al. Self-Generated Magnetic Fields in the Stagnation Phase of Indirect-Drive Implosions on the National Ignition Facility 
     Physical Review Letters 118, 155001 (2017) DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.118.155001
  • B. Appelbe, J. Pecover, J. P. Chittenden. The effects of magnetic field topology on secondary neutron spectra in Magnetized Liner Inertial Fusion High Energy Density Physics 22, p27 (2017) DOI: 10.1016/j.hedp.2017.01.005
  • J. P. Chittenden, et alSignatures of asymmetry in neutron spectra and images predicted by three dimensional radiation hydrodynamics simulations of indirect drive implosions Physics of Plasmas 23, 052708 (2016) DOI: 10.1063/1.4949523
  • B. Appelbe, J. Chittenden. The effects of ion temperature on the energy spectra of T + T → 2n + α reaction products, High Energy Density Physics 19, p29 (2016) DOI: 10.1016/j.hedp.2016.02.002
  • A.E. Turrell, M. Sherlock & S.J. Rose, Ultrafast collisional ion heating by electrostatic shocks, Nature Communications 6, 8905 (2015)
  • J. D. Pecover and J. P. Chittenden Instability growth for magnetized liner inertial fusion seeded by electro-thermal, electro-choric, and material strength effects Physics of Plasmas 22, 102701 (2015)
  • B. Appelbe and J. Chittenden, Neutron spectra from beam-target reactions in dense Z-pinches, Physics of Plasmas 22, 102703 (2015)
  • A.E. Turrell, M. Sherlock, S.J. Rose Self-consistent inclusion of classical large-angle Coulomb collisions in plasma Monte Carlo simulations Journal of Computational Physics 299, p144 (2015)
  • A.E. Turrell, M. Sherlock, S.J. Rose, Effects of Large-Angle Coulomb Collisions on Inertial Confinement Fusion Plasmas, Physical Review Letters, 112, p245002 (2014)
  • O.J. Pike, F. Mackenroth, E.G. Hill  et al., A photon-photon collider in a vacuum hohlraum, Nature Photonics8,p434 (2014)
  • S. Taylor, J.P. Chittenden, Effects of perturbations and radial profiles on ignition of inertial confinement fusion hotspots, Physics of Plasmas, 21, p062701 (2014)
  • B. Appelbe and J. Chittenden, Relativistically correct DD and DT neutron spectra, High Energy Density Physics, High Energy Density Physics, 11, p30 (2014)
  • O.J. Pike, S.J. Rose, Dynamical friction in a relativistic plasma, Physical Review E, 89, p053107 (2014)
  • C.J. Davie, I.A. Bush, R.G. Evans, Stability of shocks relating to the shock ignition inertial fusion energy scheme, Physics of Plasmas,21, p082701 (2014)
  • E.G. Hill, S.J. Rose, Non-thermal enhancement of electron-positron pair creation in burning thermonuclear laboratory plasmas, High Energy Density Physics, 13, p9 (2014)
  • M. Sherlock, E. G. Hill, R. G. Evans, S. J. Rose, and W. Rozmus, In-depth Plasma-Wave Heating of Dense Plasma Irradiated by Short Laser Pulses, Phys. Rev. Lett. 113, 255001 (2014)
  • M.Sherlock et al. Kinetic simulations of the heating of solid density plasma by femtosecond laser pulses, High Energy Density Physics, 9 38 (2013)
  • C. Danson, D. Neely, D. Hillier, High Power, Pulse fidelity in ultra-high power (petawatt class) laser systems, Laser Science and Engineering 2 e34 (2014)


To find out more about the work of CIFS in relation to fusion energy, watch  Thermonuclear fusion versus Murphy's Law - an Inaugural Lecture by Prof. Jeremy Chittenden.

You can also learn about a day in the life of a plasma physicist from this Imperial Lates interview with Dr Brian Appelbe