The heart of the H-1NF is the H-1 Heliac, a large toroidal helical-axis stellarator device which was designed for fundamental research in the physics of plasma confinement. The Heliac magnetic field is produced by a three-dimensional magnetic coil system. This magnetic field is precisely controlled by a precision computer-controlled 14 megawatt (MW) dual power supply, which by control of currents, allows a wide range of plasma shapes to be produced.
The plasma is produced by high-power radio- and micro-waves, and its properties are measured by electric and magnetic probes, optical and microwave interferometry and scattering instruments.
These measurement systems, many of them based on advanced remote sensing techniques, are called ‘plasma diagnostics’. Australia has an outstanding international reputation in the development of innovative diagnostics, and a central aim of this facility is to exploit and build upon this capability. A particular focus of research on the heliac is the study of turbulent transport, flows, instabilities and the effect of magnetic configurations on plasma stability and confinement.
Technologies originating in research on the heliac are also being applied to plasma diagnostics for experiments around the world, instruments for industry and defence, and wireless communication and radar. International collaborations include work with scientists from Japan, the United States, and Europe. In addition, the laboratory also carries out research in plasma theory, simulation, and visualisation, in collaboration with staff from the Department of Theoretical Physics and the School of Computer Sciences in the ANU College of Engineering and Computer Science.
MagPIE: Magnetized Plasma Interaction Experiment
The Magnetized Plasma Interaction Experiment (MagPIE) is intended to provide a test-bed specifically for developing and testing diagnostics for plasma-materials interaction under conditions relevant to the edge of fusion reactors. The device aims to achieve high plasma densities (~1019m-3 H+) and power densities, but cannot provide the neutron flux.
A prototype plasma source has been constructed with EIF funding using RF production from a 4.5kW peak power source, magnetic field coils from the University of Sydney, and two 1000A power supplies. The device has a flexible magnetic field configuration and will be equipped with a target holder and multiple diagnostics.