Research

Setthivoine You Research Group

 

S. You Research Group Photo (2015)

 

The long-term goal of the group's research efforts is to sufficiently understand the interaction between plasma flows and magnetic fields in space and in the laboratory to improve compact fusion concepts and advanced space propulsion concepts. As a major step toward this goal, the group currently focuses on self-organization in plasmas. Self-organization is concerned with the spontaneous emergence of large-scale structures in physical systems. Examples include the formation of tornadoes, wing-tip vortices, DNA knots, cosmic magnetic fields, astrophysical jets, solar coronal loops, fusion confinement concepts, etc.; these structures can be thought of as resulting from the dynamics of self-organized systems.

We are building the Mochi experiment to simulate the formation and sustainment of an astrophysical jet in the laboratory. For the experiment, we are also developing Vectomo, a unique diagnostic designed to reconstruct 3D plasma flows using vector tomography of ion Doppler spectroscopic measurements. The study is based on a new theory of canonical helicity transport that provides an intuitive interpretation of plasma flow interactions with magnetic fields as evolving pictures of links, writhes, and twists in canonical flux tubes.

The group investigates applications of these tools to plasma space propulsion concepts: magnetic nozzles on pulsed plasma thrusters, Plasma Tweezers configuration for active space debris removal and asteroid de-spinning, and fusion rockets based on flowing, magnetized, compact toroids.

Funding:

U.S. Department of Energy (Office of Fusion Energy Sciences)