Supervisors: Prof. Tony Arber, Dr Keith Bennet and Dr Tom Goffrey (Department of Physics)

Coupling kinetic solutions of laser-plasma interactions to large-scale fluid simulations will help optimise experiments aimed at achieving thermonuclear fusion driven by lasers.

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Direct-drive inertial fusion energy1 (IFE) requires high-energy lasers to be focussed on a spherical target. The outer material of the target (usually CH) ablates driving an implosion of the core deuterium-tritium (DT) fuel. For this approach to be successful it is essential that the laser energy couples efficiently to the ablated plasma. However, instabilities lead to the loss of direct drive laser energy and the excitation of plasma electrostatic waves. This reduces drive efficiency and the plasma waves produced generate fast-electrons that pre-heat the cryogenic DT core inhibiting compression and ignition. Despite decades of research we are still lacking a comprehensive understanding of these instabilities at ignition scales. This project will study, via numerical simulations, how laser-plasma instabilities affect hot-electron generation and how these effects might be coupled to full hydrodynamic simulations of inertial fusion. This work will be undertaken within a team at Warwick of 5 academics and 5 PhD students working on laser driven IFE. The work will involve comparison with experimental datasets from collaborators in the Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE) in the US.

The project will involve coupling the output the from the LPSE code that simulates the laser-plasma interactions including kinetic effects to Warwick’s radiation-hydrodynamic code (Odin). The kinetic effects will be included via the LPSE code2. Specifically we would like to know the sensitivity of LPSE simulations to non-linear limiters and how these uncertainties affect the accuracy of Odin simulations by coupling the LPSE output into Odin’s fast-electron models. This work therefore covers multi-scale modelling, uncertainty quantification and significant amounts of software development. The codes are written in a mixture of Fortran, C++, Cuda and Python and disciplined research software engineering (RSE) skills are essential.

References:
1. R.S. Craxton et al., Direct-drive inertial confinement fusion: A review, Physics of Plasmas 22, 110501 (2015). DOI: http://aip.scitation.org/doi/10.1063/1.4934714
2. Laser Plasma Simulation Environment (LPSE) http://www.lle.rochester.edu/education/research/theory/PPG/LPSE.php