四虎影院

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Plasma Physics and Fusion - PHY00079H

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  • Department: Physics
  • Module co-ordinator: Prof. Roddy Vann
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2024-25
    • See module specification for other years: 2023-24

Module summary

This module provides an introduction to plasma physics with the emphasis on examples and underlying physical mechanisms rather than complex theoretical models. "Plasma" is ionised gas – it's what you get if you heat a gas sufficiently, and so is sometimes referred to as "the fourth state of matter". More than 99% of the observable universe, including our sun and the inside of fluorescent light tubes, is plasma. Plasma physics combines many areas of physics, including electromagnetism, particle dynamics, relativity, thermodynamics and atomic physics. This module looks at how we can use these ideas from other modules and apply them to understand the physics behind some examples of both terrestrial and astrophysical plasmas. Particular attention will be paid to areas of research excellence at York, including magnetic confinement fusion, inertial confinement fusion and low temperature plasmas.

Related modules

Pre-requisites:  Thermodynamics & Electromagnetism +  [Mathematics, Professional Skills & Experimental Laboratories or Mathematics, Professional Skills & Computational Laboratories or Mathematics, Professional Skills & Introduction to Laboratories] or equivalents

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 1 2024-25

Module aims

This module provides an introduction to plasma physics with the emphasis on examples and underlying physical mechanisms rather than complex theoretical models. "Plasma" is ionised gas – it's what you get if you heat a gas sufficiently, and so is sometimes referred to as "the fourth state of matter". More than 99% of the observable universe, including our sun and the inside of fluorescent light tubes, is plasma. Plasma physics combines many areas of physics, including electromagnetism, particle dynamics, relativity, thermodynamics and atomic physics. This module looks at how we can use these ideas from other modules and apply them to understand the physics behind some examples of both terrestrial and astrophysical plasmas. Particular attention will be paid to areas of research excellence at York, including magnetic confinement fusion, inertial confinement fusion and low temperature plasmas.

Module learning outcomes

At the end of this module successful students will be able to:

  • Describe the fundamental properties of a plasma and the usual formulations of a variety of plasma regimes

  • Examine examples of applications of plasma physics and explain the underlying scientific principles

  • Solve unseen problems in plasma physics & fusion using relevant scientific principles and mathematical tools

Module content

What is a plasma?: Definition of a plasma; Debye length; plasma sheath; quasineutrality; collective behaviour; ubiquity of plasmas (and examples thereof)

Charged particle motion: Charged particle orbits and drifts in electromagnetic fields; Larmor radius; cyclotron frequency; plasma oscillations; conservation of both kinetic energy & magnetic moment; magnetic mirrors; magnetic energy

Plasma descriptions: distribution function and its moments; two fluid equations; closure; magnetohydrodynamics (MHD); MHD pressure balance; Langmuir waves

Low Temperature Plasmas for medical & technological applications: Saha equation; plasma sheath; contrast between ion & electron temperatures; plasma medical technologies; interaction of electrons, ions, reactive neutrals, UV and electric fields with biological material; plasma etching in manufacturing; satellite space thrusters

Astrophysical & space plasmas: simulating astrophysical and planetary plasmas in the laboratory and the onset of quantum electrodynamics; the solar wind, the magnetosphere, magnetic reconnection & the aurora

Introduction to fusion: binding energy as function of atomic number; choice of fuel ions; Lawson criterion; extraction of heat; safety; source of fuel supply

Magnetic confinement fusion (MCF): statement of magnetic configuration of MCF devices including tokamaks; current MCF projects & their challenges; qualitative introduction to classical, neoclassical & turbulent transport; plasma wall interaction; concepts of MCF diagnostics; the need for heating & current drive, and a qualitative description of available techniques

Inertial Confinement Fusion (ICF): confinement criteria for burning plasmas; ignition and burn; implosions; direct and indirect drive ICF; laser-plasma interactions and how they are important for ICF; Hohlraums; hydrodynamic Instabilities and how they affect performance; the National Ignition Facility; alternative schemes including Fast and Shock ignition; fast electron production and transport; ion acceleration

Assessment

Task Length % of module mark
Closed/in-person Exam (Centrally scheduled)
Plasma Physics and Fusion
3 hours 100

Special assessment rules

Other

Reassessment

Task Length % of module mark
Closed/in-person Exam (Centrally scheduled)
Plasma Physics and Fusion
3 hours 100

Module feedback

'Feedback’ at a university level can be understood as any part of the learning process which is designed to guide your progress through your degree programme. We aim to help you reflect on your own learning and help you feel more clear about your progress through clarifying what is expected of you in both formative and summative assessments.

A comprehensive guide to feedback and to forms of feedback is available in the Guide to Assessment Standards, Marking and Feedback. This can be found at:

/students/studying/assessment-and-examination/guide-to-assessment/

The School of Physics, Engineering & Technology aims to provide some form of feedback on all formative and summative assessments that are carried out during the degree programme. In general, feedback on any written work/assignments undertaken will be sufficient so as to indicate the nature of the changes needed in order to improve the work. Students are provided with their examination results within 25 working days of the end of any given examination period. The School will also endeavour to return all coursework feedback within 25 working days of the submission deadline. The School would normally expect to adhere to the times given, however, it is possible that exceptional circumstances may delay feedback. The School will endeavour to keep such delays to a minimum. Please note that any marks released are subject to ratification by the Board of Examiners and Senate. Meetings at the start/end of each semester provide you with an opportunity to discuss and reflect with your supervisor on your overall performance to date.

Our policy on how you receive feedback for formative and summative purposes is contained in our Physics at York Taught Student Handbook.

Indicative reading

R. Fitzpatrick “Plasma Physics: an Introduction” CRC (2014)

Boyd T J M and Sanderson J J, The Physics of Plasmas (CUP 2003)

Chen F F, Introduction to Plasma Physics and Controlled Fusion (Vol. 1) (Plenum, 1985)

Lindl, The Quest for Ignition and Energy Gain Using Indirect Drive, Springer-Verlag,1998 (also available as a journal article Phys. Plasmas 2 (11), pp. 3933-4024,1995)

Atzeni and Meyer-ter-vehn, The Physics of Inertial Fusion, Oxford, 2004

Zel'dovich and Raizer, Physics of Shock Waves and High-Temperature Hydrodynamic Phenomena, Dover, 2002.



The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of 四虎影院.