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Sam Maloney

Position: PhD Student

Supervisor: Prof. Ben McMillan

Project Title: A computational platform for fusion simulations in realistic magnetic geometries

Funding: Chancellor's International Scholarship

Teaching Assistant: PX425 High Performance Computing in Physics (previously 1st year physics problems classes)

Additional Role: Computing support helper for the CFSA


MSc in Computational Science and Engineering, ETH Zürich, Switzerland, 2019

Thesis: Well-balanced methods for computation of the standing accretion shock instability (SASI)

BSc in Electrical Engineering, Nanoengineering Option - Cooperative Program, University of Alberta, Canada, 2015

Research Interests

Computational methods for fusion plasmas; scientific and high-performance computing (HPC)

Project Overview

There are many phenomena in nature that are highly ‘directional’ because motion in the system is constrained in some way. If we imagine water flowing in a river, the riverbanks constrain the water to flow along the channel and gravity constrains it to flow in the downhill direction. Even if we wish to study the smaller scale currents and eddies it would still be beneficial to take account of this overarching flow pattern.

In our work we seek to simulate the flow of plasma within a nuclear fusion reactor. Plasma is essentially a gas that is so hot the atoms within it have split into positively charged ions and negatively charged electrons. This means that unlike in a normal, neutral gas such as the air around us, the particles in a plasma will feel a force from magnetic fields they encounter. In a fusion reactor, this property can be used by applying strong magnetic fields to constrain the particles to move only along certain pathways, much like the flow of water in the river. These circular pathways loop back on themselves in a doughnut shape to contain the plasma, something that cannot be done with a simple physical container as the hot plasma would lose all its energy to the container walls and damage or destroy the material.

Therefore, when we simulate plasma in such reactors, we wish to take advantage of this directionality. Because the magnetic fields are applied in a carefully designed and controlled way, we know what pathways the particles will be directed along, although turbulence and other effects will result in plenty of smaller scale motions as well, just like the eddies in a river. But by designing our simulations to use information about the large-scale flow direction, we can much more efficiently study these small details which, though small, are nonetheless integral to the success or failure of any reactor design.


I have created a research poster template in the Overleaf gallery using the official University of Warwick brand colours and master logo.


Office: Physical Sciences, PS1.17