Prof. Allain’s group has conducted pioneering work in the area of in-situ surface chemistry analysis of plasma-material interactions (PMI) of lithiated graphite. This work has expanded to examine extreme-refined refractory alloy materials for fusion applications as well as novel nanocomposite adaptive materials. Primary areas of research include: 1) low-Z coatings of radiation-tolerant refractory nano-composites, 2) in-situ tokamak PMI diagnostics, 3) high heat-flux synergistic irradiation of candidate PFC (plasma-facing component) materials, and 4) liquid-metal systems. Our work is closely coordinated with the Center for Plasma-Material Interactions at Illinois.
Plasmas at temperatures as high as those required in fusion reactors impose several technological and scientific challenges. In addition to plasma physics, magnetic confinement and plasma stability control among others, materials science plays a critical role in the overall performance of the machines. High-energy particles expelled from the plasma collide with the components of the machine decreasing weakening the materials and decreasing their capability to endure the conditions inside the reactor.
PFCs need to survive a very extreme environment inside a tokomak (fusion reactor vessel): such as high temperatures, large changes in temperature, and bombardment by ions. To survive these conditions, materials are likely to be refractory materials (e.g. tungsten (W), molybdenum (Mo), etc.) with tolerance to temperature extremes in a fusion environment. However, these metals suffer damage from incident ions from the fusion plasma. A possible solution to the ion damage is a Li surface treatment. This surface treatment could protect the PFCs from ions as well as improve the performance of the Fusion plasma.
Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory
Dutch Institute for Fundamental Energy Research
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
University of Huddersfield