Plasma Data Analysis Group
Physics Department, UCC


The Plasma Data Analysis Group performs computational studies and modelling of experimental data from magnetically confined reactor-grade plasmas in the area of controlled thermonuclear fusion research. This work is heavily collaborative and there are strong links with the Max Planck Institut für Plasmaphysik, (IPP) Garching and Greifswald, and other European fusion laboratories. The present composition of the group is as follows: Patrick J. Mc Carthy (group leader), Prof. Richard J. Armstrong (visiting researcher), Diarmuid Curran, Mike Dunne, Cormac McAuliffe (postgraduate researchers in the Department of Physics). Links to a brief summary of current research interests and to group publications are on the left margin.



Physics Home Page

W7-X, presently under construction in Greifswald, Germany, is the largest, most advanced stellarator ever constructed and was designed to demonstrate steady-state reactor-relevant operation. The confining magnetic field is provided by a set of 50 computer-designed non-planar superconducting coils and does not require a plasma current.


The tokamak is the most common fusion research device. The confining magnetic field is generated by currents flowing in the toroidal field coils and, superimposed on this, a smaller field due to a transformer-induced current flowing in the plasma itself. At fusion temperatures, the plasma conducts current as freely as copper.


Since 1983, JET has been the largest operating tokamak in the world - the human figure on the lower left of the image above gives a sense of the scale of the device! It holds many world records for the best fusion parameters achieved, including that for the most fusion power created in a plasma.


The future of fusion energy research will rely on the success of ITER, the International Tokamak Experimental Reactor which is under construction at Cadarache, near Aix en Provence, on a 10 year timeframe at a projected cost of €13bn and will operate for circa 35 y.


These two photos show an inner view of the ASDEX Upgrade tokamak at the Max-Planck-Institut für Plasmaphysik in Garching, Germany. The Plasma Data Analysis Group at UCC has a long-standing collaboration with this institute involving work on the ASDEX and ASDEX Upgrade tokamaks and the W7-AS and W7-X stellarators. The left-hand photo shows an engineer inspecting the inner wall of ASDEX Upgrade during a maintenance phase, the other shows the experiment during an actual plasma discharge, captured on CCD camera.