• Support PF! Buy your school textbooks, materials and every day products Here!

Working on nuclear fusion as nuclear physicist

  • #1
284
5

Main Question or Discussion Point

Most research on nuclear fusion obviously is done in materials for containing and generating the plasma and this is not the speciality of a nuclear physicist. Is there actually anything for nuclear physicists to do for research other than figuring out a totally new path for achieving fusion?
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
1,086
2
I'd be interested in hearing the answer to this question, as well, as nuclear physics is one of the fields that sound the most interesting to me (at this early stage of being a first-year physics student).
 
  • #3
mheslep
Gold Member
311
728
I'd be interested in hearing the answer to this question, as well, as nuclear physics is one of the fields that sound the most interesting to me (at this early stage of being a first-year physics student).
This might keep you busy:
Is there a Better Route to Fusion? T.H. Rider, 2005
http://fusor.net/board/getfile.php?bn=fusor_future&att_id=3718 [Broken]

4/1/05
Potential Thesis (or Nobel Prize) Topics
Fusion reactions
• In the table of possible fusion reactions, should additional reactions be green?
(Consider competing side reactions and idealized breakeven against bremsstrahlung.)
• Are there any promising reactions not in the table (due to higher Z or shorter nuclide half-life)?

Can one provide better evidence (especially experimental) for or against spin polarized fusion?
• Benefits of spin-polarized fusion (especially for D+D reaction enhancement or suppression).
• Methods of producing polarized nuclei.
• Mechanisms and rates of depolarization relative to the fusion rate.

Fusion catalyzed by massive negative particles
• Are there more efficient muon production methods?
• Are there practical methods for unsticking muons from alpha particles?
• Are there methods to reduce the muon catalysis cycle time?
• Are there any massive negative particles that are more suitable than muons for catalysis?
• Can the effective electron mass or charge be increased in useful ways?

Other ways to improve the tunneling factor
• Is there a way to keep scattering from hindering shape-polarized fusion?
• Is the resonant tunneling model valid, and does it have useful consequences?
• Is fusion of light elements in liquid metallic states scientifically valid and practical to achieve?
• Are there other ways to improve the tunneling factor?
• Can one prove we have covered the complete phase space of ideas for improving the
tunneling factor?

Other improvements to sfus
• Are there ways to improve the wavefunction cross-sectional area factor in sfus?
• Are there ways to improve the Breit-Wigner compound nucleus energy resonance factor in sfus?
• Are there any other categories of ways to influence sfus?
Ominous side note: after gaining his Phd in Nuclear Physics at MIT and publishing a highly noted dissertation that smashed some fusion investigations, Rider left the field :eek:completely.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #4
1,086
2
Thanks, I never figured this would get answered after such a long time of no activity :smile:
 
  • #5
1,654
2
Interesting presentation. Apparently, fusion is not physically feasible at our scales on Earth. The immense gravitational field of the stars makes it possible at such levels. Is that an accurate summation?
 
  • #6
323
0
Interesting presentation. Apparently, fusion is not physically feasible at our scales on Earth. The immense gravitational field of the stars makes it possible at such levels. Is that an accurate summation?
I think that sounds right...but I don't know either. From what I have heard is that fusion is more of an engineering problem. I recall reading something awhile ago about how hot it gets in the fusion reactors(over 100 million degrees C) is a real problem for containment.
 
  • #7
As I understand it, it's not hard to contain the plasma -- it's just hard extracting a meaningful amount of energy from it.
 
  • #8
491
2
http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-05-perspective-future-fusion.html
http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-03-fusion-scientists-gear-harness-plasma.html

The first is an interview with the director at Princeton's Plasma Physics Lab. The second is a recent article in what fusion scientists are doing now, amongst other things. Have a look around on PhysOorg, you'll see what the recent work is about. I would guess that plasma physics or materials is one of the more important things in nuclear fusion research right now, though I'm only thinking about this one method of obtaining fusion.
 
  • #9
284
5
This might keep you busy:
Is there a Better Route to Fusion? T.H. Rider, 2005
http://fusor.net/board/getfile.php?bn=fusor_future&att_id=3718 [Broken]



Ominous side note: after gaining his Phd in Nuclear Physics at MIT and publishing a highly noted dissertation that smashed some fusion investigations, Rider left the field :eek:completely.
So the answer on my question is no. There is nothing for nuclear physicists to do but try and search for new pathways... Sad to hear that. :(
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #10
323
0
Its sad to see that fusion isn't really likely for at least "another few decades." I was kind of using fusion studies as a back up to going for particle phyiscs, but it seems fusion too doesn't have a very promising(near) future.
 
  • #11
465
1
I am by no means an expert, but a few years ago I had a lot of interest in fusion as it seemed to me to be the only alternative energy source that could realistically supply humanity with most of its energy needs in the future. However, advances in solar power in the mean time have been extraordinary, and now I do not see fusion as being quite as crucial.

That being said, while nuclear physicists do not seem to play much of a role in fusion research today, plasma physicists certainly do. hadsed mentions the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, which actually offers summer research positions for undergraduates interested in plasma physics and fusion, which you may be interested in Ryker. I have a friend who participated in the program a few years ago who had a great time though he decided that plasma physics ultimately wasn't for him.
 
  • #12
mheslep
Gold Member
311
728
So the answer on my question is no. There is nothing for nuclear physicists to do but try and search for new pathways... Sad to hear that. :(
Nothing to do but try and search for new pathways? :confused: What exactly do you expect nuclear physicists should be doing?
 
  • #13
284
5
Nothing to do but try and search for new pathways? :confused: What exactly do you expect nuclear physicists should be doing?
Well, I'm pretty sure most pathways are already there, so there is not much left on fusion. Maybe there was another aspect of fusion I was overlooking. I have a pretty good idea what nuclear physicists do at my university.
 
  • #14
1,086
2
That being said, while nuclear physicists do not seem to play much of a role in fusion research today, plasma physicists certainly do. hadsed mentions the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, which actually offers summer research positions for undergraduates interested in plasma physics and fusion, which you may be interested in Ryker. I have a friend who participated in the program a few years ago who had a great time though he decided that plasma physics ultimately wasn't for him.
Thanks, but I'm studying in Canada (as an international student), so the Princeton thing is probably out of the question. I do know they offer summer research in the field of nuclear physics in Vancouver, so I'm definitely keeping my eyes open for that.
 

Related Threads on Working on nuclear fusion as nuclear physicist

  • Last Post
Replies
8
Views
3K
Replies
3
Views
2K
Replies
0
Views
670
Replies
4
Views
1K
  • Last Post
Replies
5
Views
773
Replies
1
Views
661
Replies
3
Views
1K
Top