Oscillatory vapour shielding of liquid metal walls in nuclear fusion devices


Providing an efficacious plasma facing surface between the extreme plasma heat exhaust and the structural materials of nuclear fusion devices is a major challenge on the road to electricity production by fusion power plants. The performance of solid plasma facing surfaces may become critically reduced over time due to progressing damage accumulation. Liquid metals, however, are now gaining interest in solving the challenge of extreme heat flux hitting the reactor walls. A key advantage of liquid metals is the use of vapour shielding to reduce the plasma exhaust. Here we demonstrate that this phenomenon is oscillatory by nature. The dynamics of a Sn vapour cloud are investigated by exposing liquid Sn targets to H and He plasmas at heat fluxes greater than 5 MW m−2. The observations indicate the presence of a dynamic equilibrium between the plasma and liquid target ruled by recombinatory processes in the plasma, leading to an approximately stable surface temperature.

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