Exploring TJ-II: A user wearing position sensors is detected by a camera and projected into the 3D model of the stellarator TJ-II. (Photo: CIEMAT)

Scientists from the Spanish Association CIEMAT, along with colleagues from the computational institute BIFI (Institute for Biocomputation and Physics of Complex Systems), have created a tool, which allows them to step inside their research results and have a look around. In their so-called 3D lounge, they can enter a fusion reactor, observe how the plasma behaves in various magnetic fields, launch ions and watch their trajectories and explore all corners of the vessel. Their software visualises anything that is available in a 3D data format. The image is projected onto a screen with polarised light and users wearing polarised glasses seem immersed inside it. They wear position sensors, which are tracked by a camera and this allows them to move around inside the 3D structure. The CIEMAT-BIFI group took the lounge to ITER, where they invited people to explore their future reactor.

CIEMAT scientist Francisco Castejon explains how the project started: “We are working on TJ-II, a stellarator with a very complex geometry. The results of our calculations – for instance the trajectories of millions of plasma particles or of the magnetic field – were so difficult to imagine that we developed a 3D visualisation software”. In close collaboration with BIFI, the scientists created a system that projects users inside the 3D image. This turned out to be a fantastic tool for public information purposes: “At demonstration sessions in Zaragoza and Madrid, people were delighted to be able to enter fusion devices, getting a “real” impression of what stellarators or tokamaks are and how they work. The sessions helped fusion research to gain increased support in Spain,” Francisco says. The 3D lounge is mobile and can travel to other Associations by van. Currently the group is planning to further enhance their equipment.

Thanks to Francisco Castejón, CIEMAT, for his input

The 3D lounge was developed by José Luis Velasco, José Miguel Reynolds, Luca Rossi, and Alfonso Tarancón from BIFI, and by Francisco Castejón, Daniel López Bruna and Antonio Gómez from CIEMAT. Contact: francisco.castejon@ciemat.es; tarancon@unizar.es

Videos of users exploring fusion structures: