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Fusion plasmas group

A plasma is one of the four fundamental states of matter. It is a fluid made up of ions and electrons. There are natural plasmas, such as the stars, the solar wind, the magnetosphere, or lightning, and others that are produced artificially, by heating a gas or subjecting it to an electric field: neon signs, Hall-effect thrusters, material-processing reactors, etc.

Thermonuclear fusion is a process by which two atomic nuclei join to form a heavier nucleus. This process occurs naturally in stars. The mass of the product(s) of the fusion reaction is less than the sum of the masses of the initial nuclei. Thus, the difference is converted into energy according to Einstein's formula E = mc². Achieving thermonuclear fusion of hydrogen on Earth is one of the avenues being considered for the provision of electricity over the next few decades, as a complement to other renewable energies.

Thermonuclear fusion of hydrogen presents considerable advantages, such as the availability of fuel and the fact that it is a decarbonized energy and essentially a clean process. Nevertheless, several steps remain to be taken before the process can be industrialized. Several fusion reactor concepts are being explored by the international community. The team participates in research exploring 3 configurations: the tokamak (configuration of the ITER project), the stellarator (Wendelstein 7-X machine) and inertial fusion (Laser MegaJoule). This research is carried out in the framework of collaborations with groups from the Fédération de Recherche Fusion par Confinement Magnétique, especially l’Institut de Recherche sur la Fusion Magnétique of the Cadarache CEA, and many foreign laboratories: Instituts Max-Planck de physique des plasmas of Garching and Greifswald, IPP Prague, the Universities of Ghent, Basle, Kyushu, IST-IPFN Lisbon, Ioffé Institute of Saint Petersburg, UCSD San Diego, Hefei Institutes of Physical Science, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne to name but a few.


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