PHY569A - Physics of plasmas and thermonuclear fusion

Due to its high ionization, which induces specific behaviors, the plasma state is a singular state of matter, compared to solid, liquid and gas states which make up our Earth environment. That is why it is often referred to as the fourth state of the matter. Plasmas occur pervasively in nature: indeed, most of the known matter in the Universe is in plasma state. Many naturally occurring plasmas, such as the surface regions of the Sun, interstellar gas clouds, the pulsars or the Earth’s magnetosphere, exhibit distinctively dynamical phenomena arising from the effects of electric and magnetic forces. The science of plasma physics was developed not only to provide an understanding of these naturally occurring plasmas but also in furtherance of the quest for controlled nuclear fusion. Plasma science is structured on one hand by large cognitive research programs (material science, astrophysics, planetology, ultrahigh laser intensities, …) and on the other hand by applied research, focused on key societal issues, gathering thermonuclear fusion, innovating processes for structuration and resistance of the materials, environment, health.

This course provides an introduction to the basic principles of plasma physics and thermonuclear fusion. It consists of an introduction to the principles and methods of plasma physics, followed by a presentation of the problematic of controlled thermonuclear combustion, whether it be the magnetic confinement route (the international ITER project) or the inertial confinement route (the Mégajoule project in France and the NIF project in the USA).


Language: English