The Office of Fusion Energy Science, part of the US Department of Energy, has awarded $1.05 million dollars to the HIDRA plasma/fusion facility for performing fusion-relevant materials science on lithium as a Plasma Facing Component (PFC). HIDRA is especially well-suited to materials testing thanks to its long shot durations and many ports that can be dedicated to materials experiments. Lithium is a promising PFC candidate for future fusion reactors, but performing lithium experiments in existing fusion devices, such as HT-7 in Hefei, China, can be difficult and time-consuming. With this grant, the first government grant HIDRA has received so far, lithium studies can be conducted in-house at the Center for Plasma Material Interactions, without the need to coordinate experiments with other research teams. Professor Daniel Andruczyk, head of HIDRA operations and creator of an undergraduate-level course which focuses on giving students hands-on experience with HIDRA, plans for HIDRA to become a user facility accessible by scientists both on and off campus, providing the first dedicated materials testbed for fusion science in the country.
On May 30 to June 3, the 22nd International Conference on Plasma Surface Interactions in Controlled Fusion Devices, presented by ENEA, the Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development, was held in Rome Italy. CPMI sent Director Dr. David Ruzic and Graduate Student Michael Chrsitenson to present our latest research on fusion-relevant PSI. Professor Ruzic presented research on Flowing Liquid Lithium Plasma-Facing Components and Free Surface Stability of Liquid Metal Plasma Facing Components. Dr. Currelli, an affiliate faculty member of CPMI, presented research on the Analysis of Microscopic Erosion of a Beryllium Wall Exposed to a Helium Plasma Using a Boltzmann-BCA model. Affiliate faculty member Dr. J.P. Allain sent three of his graduate students, Felipe Bedoya, Aveek Kapat, and Anton Neff. Their presented research concerned deciphering deuterium retention in He-irradiated porous low Z-coated tungsten nanostructures, initial studies of PFC conditioning in the National Spherical Tokamak Experiment Upgrade with the Materials Analysis Particle Probe, and elucidating behavior of Li-based surfaces on W substrates under high-temperature and high-flux He plasmas in Pilot-PSI.
Monday 25th of April had CPMI’s Assistant Research Professor, Daniel Andruczyk, on the local NPR radio station WILL talk show “The 21st with Niala Boodhoo” discussing HIDRA and fusion. Some of the questions asked were about what fusion actually is and the type of research that will be undertaken in HIDRA. Of course the question always is asked, how long will it be till we see a functioning fusion reactor? Well, for the answer you will need to have a listen.
The Hybrid Illinois Device for Research and Applications (HIDRA) is a toroidal plasma device at UIUC, formerly known as WEGA when operated in Greifswald. The HIDRA vacuum vessel has a circular cross section and a major radius of R = 0.72 m and a minor radius a = 0.19 m, with a steady state toroidal magnetic field BT < 0.5 T. A limiter can be used with reduced plasma minor radius between 0.10 – 0.15 m. Since HIDRA has the ability for long pulse steady state operation via the classical stellarator configuration, HIDRA has an actual toroidal magnetic field, just like a tokamak. HIDRA also has the capability to operate as a tokamak and thus a pulsing capability during steady operation allows simulation of transient events. Initial plasmas will use 2.45 GHz magnetron heating up to 26 kW and should achieve Te ~ 20 eV and ne ~ 1×1018 m-3. Even though these plasma parameters are much lower than that of larger devices like EAST, the plasma and magnetic fields at the first wall are very close to those produced in HIDRA. The steady state and pulsed capabilities of HIDRA make it an ideal test bed for liquid Li science and technology, where flow, ejection and recycling can be assessed.
Fusion is the process of taking two light atoms and providing them with enough energy that they are able to fuse to form a heavier atom. This is the opposite to fission where atoms are split. This is the energy source that drives the stars! One example of a fusion reaction is the formation of helium from the fusing of deuterium and tritium and releasing 17.6 MeV of energy.
D + T → He + n + 17.6 MeV
Energetically this is the easiest of the fusion reactions and there are many other fusion reactions, that in the future may be utilized. Many universities and laboratories around the world have pursued the dream of fusion energy since the 1950’s. It promises to be a clean source of energy producing no CO2 and no radioactive waste. However, technologically fusion has proven to be quite complicated to achieve over the years, just imagine how do you confine a plasma that is over 100 million oC. There are two main magnetic confinement devices that are studies, tokamaks and stellarators.
Tokamaks use a toroidal magnetic field and a poloidal magnetic field induced from a current that is driven within the plasma itself to form the confining magnetic bottle. The stellarator uses all external magnetic fields that are generated through various magnets, and some of these can get very complicated indeed, as seen with W7-X!
It turns out that the interactions between the plasma and surfaces in fusion reactors play a major role in the ability for these machines to operate successfully with good confinement, minimal transient events and being able to withstand the particle and heat flux to the surfaces. Power flux at steady state operation can be as high as 10 MWm-2 and during a transient event such as a disruption or ELM can get as high as 100 MWm-2. Most materials cannot withstand this and so new ways to protect surfaces or new materials that can withstand the fluxes need to be developed.
HIDRA will be at the forefront of studying plasma material interactions and developing the technology needed for innovative plasma facing components that will make fusion a viable energy source of the future.
 D. Andruczyk, D. N. Ruzic, D. Curreli, J. P. Allain and the HIDRA Team, Fusion Sci. Technol. 68 (2015), 497.
 M. Otte, D. Andruczyk, E. Holzhauer, et al., AIP Conf. Proc. 3 (2008) 993.
 H. P. Laqua, D. Andruczyk, S. Marsen, et al., Proc. 22nd IAEA Fusion Energy Conf. Geneva, 13 – 18 Oct, (2008).
 M. Otte, H. P. Laqua, E. Chlechowitz, et al., Nucleonika, 57 (2012) 171.
 J. Chung, R. König, J. Howard, et al., Plasma Phys. Control. Fusion, 47 (2005) 919.
Today at 4:15pm, the Hybrid Illinois Device for Research and Applications (HIDRA) had its first plasma. HIDRA, the former WEGA stellarator/tokamak, arrived at Illinois in Nov. 2014 and has been under reconstruction for the last 18 months. All of the support systems – -power, water, vacuum, etc. are now operational and today marked the first confined plasma. The HIDRA First Plasma event was attended by over 100 people including the Dean of Engineering, the Nuclear, Plasma and Radiological Engineering Dept. Head, most of the faculty and numerous alumni visitors. The hard work of Prof. Daniel Andruczyk and many undergraduate and graduate students as well as help from the Universities Facilities and Services has paid off!
Gianluca Panici, a graduate student at CPMI, was just awarded the IBM Ph.D. Fellowship! The IBM Ph.D. Fellowship Awards Program attracts applicants from all over the world from fields as diverse as computer science and engineering to physical sciences and processing engineering. The Fellowship is awarded to only a select few Ph.D. candidates each year. Congratulations Gianluca!
The Center for Plasma-Material Interactions would like to officially welcome our newest post-doctoral research scientist, Dr. Sabrina Hammouti! Her expertise in laser systems and laser-surface interactions will be of vital importance to several exciting CPMI projects, including the Dry Etch Assisted by Laser (DEAL) project and much more. We look forward to having Sabrina on the team.
“In-Situ Collector Cleaning and EUV Reflectivity Restoration by Hydrogen Plasma for EUV Sources,” a paper by CPMI graduate students Daniel Elg and Gianluca Panici, has just been accepted for publication by the Journal of Vacuum Science and Technology A! Extreme Ultraviolet Lithography is the next step for the photolithography systems used to manufacture ever smaller computer chips. Their research concerns the use of an in-situ Hydrogen plasma to remove deposited Tin from the extremely sensitive reflectors used in EUV systems, allowing for significantly less downtime in the manufacturing process. After publication, a link to the paper will be added to the paper’s entry on the CPMI Publications page, where you can find links to download all published CPMI papers.
U.S. Patent number 9,171,733 was granted on October 27th, 2015! This patent is regarding the method of selectively etching a three-dimensional structure. The issuing of this patent reflects the continued outstanding work going on at CPMI, Congratulations!
Congratulations to Jason for his selection to receive an Outstanding Graduate Student Award–The Lam Research Corporation Award! This award was very well deserved, as well as is a testament to the great work Jason has done and continues to do.