“This prize strongly encourages me to keep up my work in fusion”, says Wei Zhang. The postdoc, currently located at the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics in Garching, is proudly referring to the prize of the European Physical Society (EPS). Together with Matteo Falessi (Roma Tre University), Jack Hare (Imperial College London) and Adrien Leblanc (University Paris-Saclay), he is one of this year’s awardees.
The plasma’s edge
Wei’s winning study is called “Plasma edge modelling with ICRF coupling”, and one of his studies is improving the ICRF (Ion cyclotron resonance frequency) power coupling with local gas fuelling. This investigation is about producing an appropriate local edge plasma density, which then facilitates a good radio frequency power coupling and a proper plasma heating. This solution had already been tested at ASDEX Upgrade and the Joint European Torus (JET) but lacked upscaling for large tokamaks like ITER.
In the end, Wei’s modelling for ITER suggested that its local gas valve should be positioned at a different location. “Originally, they had planned to put four gas valves on the outer top of the vessel of the tokamak. Since, based on my calculations, I could prove that midplane gas valves close to the antenna would be much better to increase the local plasma density and the ICRF coupling , the location of one of the valves was now switched to the midplane”, explains the 29 year old Chinese.