Magnetically confined plasmas

Magnetically confined plasmas are those plasmas that are trapped using magnetic fields. Magnetic fields can prevent high-temperature plasma coming into contact with solid materials that it could damage or destroy. Magnetically confined plasmas offer one possible route to sustained nuclear fusion.

Latest Research and Reviews

  • Research | | open

    Magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) waves and plasma instabilities can be studied during solar flares. Here the authors show evidence for an MHD sausage mode oscillation periodically triggering electron acceleration at a magnetic null point in the solar corona, indicating MHD oscillations in plasma can indirectly lead to loss-cone instability modulation.

    • Eoin P. Carley
    • , Laura A. Hayes
    • , Sophie A. Murray
    • , Diana E. Morosan
    • , Warren Shelley
    • , Nicole Vilmer
    •  & Peter T. Gallagher
  • Research | | open

    Thermonuclear fusion of nuclei of deuterium and tritium may provide the energy for the future and spin polarization is a potential mechanism for enhancing the nuclear reaction. Here the authors predict the enhanced DT fusion rate using chiral effective field theory and ab initio calculations.

    • Guillaume Hupin
    • , Sofia Quaglioni
    •  & Petr Navrátil
  • Research |

    A major challenge for achieving useful thermonuclear fusion regimes is heating plasma to reactive temperature conditions. It is demonstrated experimentally how energetic ions, generated via neutral beam injection, can be exploited for this process.

    • R. M. Magee
    • , A. Necas
    • , R. Clary
    • , S. Korepanov
    • , S. Nicks
    • , T. Roche
    • , M. C. Thompson
    • , M. W. Binderbauer
    •  & T. Tajima
    Nature Physics 15, 281-286
  • Research | | open

    Magnetic energy in the plasma is transferred into particle energy by magnetic reconnection. Here the authors show the two-fluid dynamics of asymmetric magnetic reconnection in two different spatial scales of plasma, namely laboratory and astrophysical plasma.

    • M. Yamada
    • , L.-J. Chen
    • , J. Yoo
    • , S. Wang
    • , W. Fox
    • , J. Jara-Almonte
    • , H. Ji
    • , W. Daughton
    • , A. Le
    • , J. Burch
    • , B. Giles
    • , M. Hesse
    • , T. Moore
    •  & R. Torbert
  • Research |

    A theoretical and numerical approach, validated by experiments at the KSTAR facility, shows how magnetohydrodynamic instabilities in tokamak plasmas can be efficiently controlled by a small relaxation of the confining field into a 3D configuration.

    • Jong-Kyu Park
    • , YoungMu Jeon
    • , Yongkyoon In
    • , Joon-Wook Ahn
    • , Raffi Nazikian
    • , Gunyoung Park
    • , Jaehyun Kim
    • , HyungHo Lee
    • , WonHa Ko
    • , Hyun-Seok Kim
    • , Nikolas C. Logan
    • , Zhirui Wang
    • , Eliot A. Feibush
    • , Jonathan E. Menard
    •  & Michael C. Zarnstroff
    Nature Physics 14, 1223-1228

News and Comment

  • News and Views |

    The axial symmetry of tokamaks benefits plasma confinement but hinders control. Experiments have now proven that optimized non-axisymmetric magnetic fields can provide much improved control without degrading the plasma confinement.

    • Allen H. Boozer
    Nature Physics 14, 1157-1158
  • News and Views |

    The first campaign of the largest stellarator ever built, Wendelstein 7-X, has been successful, achieving high electron temperatures and minimal self-generated plasma current. This is very encouraging for future long-pulse, full-power operation.

    • Joseph N. Talmadge
    Nature Physics 14, 779-780
  • Comments and Opinion |

    Construction of the ITER tokamak, arguably the largest scientific project ever, is well under way in the south of France. Nature Physics spoke with ITER's Director-General, Bernard Bigot, about the challenges ahead — a conversation about physics, engineering, politics and culture.

    • Bart Verberck
    Nature Physics 12, 395-397
  • Comments and Opinion |

    Energy-producing nuclear fusion reactions taking place in tokamaks cause radiation damage and radioactivity. Remote-handling technology for repairing and replacing in-vessel components has evolved enormously over the past two decades — and is now being deployed elsewhere too.

    • Rob Buckingham
    •  & Antony Loving
    Nature Physics 12, 391-393