Characterization of fusion plasmas in the cylindrical DTU inertial electrostatic confinement device

J. Rasmussen*, T. Jensen, S.B. Korsholm, N. E. Kihm, F.K. Ohms, M. Gockenbach, B.S. Schmidt, E. Goss

*Corresponding author for this work

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Inertial electrostatic confinement offers a relatively simple and cost-effective means of generating fusion plasmas for research and industrial applications. Here, we present the experimental setup and discharge characteristics of the inertial electrostatic confinement device at the Dept. of Physics, Technical Univ. of Denmark. Special features of this setup include a cylindrical anode and the novel use of 3D printed soccerball-like cathode grids of different sizes. Measurements with these grids show 25% higher fusion neutron rates than with manually manufactured grids with larger wire spacings. Additionally, we observe significantly higher neutron rates with smaller grids, with spherical rather than cylindrical cathodes, and when using the vacuum chamber, rather than a second spherical grid, as the anode. Ion-orbit simulations predict a core density in the ion distribution in good agreement with optical measurements, confirming that asymmetries in the cathode grid potential prevent a fully convergent ion flow. The simulations also demonstrate that the asymmetry of the electric field induced by the voltage stalk lowers the characteristic ion recirculation by a factor of four, and we discuss measures to circumvent this. Comparing measurements and simulations conducted with a spherical and cylindrical grid reveals tentative evidence that fusion reactivity is highly core-localized, pointing to ion-neutral fusion as the dominant reaction. We also quantify the thermionic and impact-induced secondary electron emission in the device, showing that only the latter can potentially suppress the ion current during normal operation.
Original languageEnglish
Article number0012924
JournalPhysics of Plasmas
Issue number8
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2020


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