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April 24th 2018

The PhD project involves physics of magnetically confined plasma for fusion energy and control theory. In a magnetic confinement fusion reactor it may prove desirable to operate at the minimum power that allows for so-called H-mode energy confinement. At lower power a bifurcation occurs: sudden fall-back to poorer L-mode energy confinement and hence a drop in fusion power. A number of physics processes have been identified that could play a role in these transitions. Scientific aim: this position is part of the strategic programme 'Taming the Flame', which aims to enhance our understanding of the physics of power exhaust of tokamak fusion reactors, and to develop advanced control strategies for high-performance, low wall load operation.

Job description
The PhD student will identify which processes are important and which measurements and actuators can be used to control them, thus addressing the research question: how can one control fusion plasma exhaust across the edge transport barrier in the vicinity of the L-H bifurcation? The project will be carried out under the supervision of Dr. H.J. (Hugo) de Blank (DIFFER and Eindhoven University of Technology) and Prof.dr. H.J. (Hans) Zwart (Eindhoven University of Technology and University of Twente).
Responsibilities and tasks:

  • to develop quantitative insight in the processes governing transitions between  L-mode and H-mode confinement in tokamaks;
  • to simulate a model-based controller for the heat flow through the separatrix of  a tokamak that allows operation in close proximity to the H-L confinement  bifurcation (i.e. avoiding the H-L back-transition);
  • to extend the controller to the L-H transition in the tokamak ramp-up phase and the H-L transition in the ramp-down phase.

The PhD project will be carried out at DIFFER and at the Eindhoven University of Technology, the Netherlands, and involves frequent contacts with our (inter)national collaborators.
DIFFER (Dutch Institute for Fundamental Energy Research) is one of the NWO institutes and focuses on a multidisciplinarily approach of the energy research combining physics, chemistry, engineering and materials science. The institute is based on two main strands, solar fuels for the conversion and storage of renewable energy and fusion-energy as clean and unlimited source of energy. DIFFER is developing and supporting a national network on fundamental energy research and is closely collaborating with academic institutions, research institutes and industry.

We seek enthusiastic and highly talented candidates that are willing to work in an international and interdisciplinary team of theoretical and experimental physicists and control scientists. The applicant should have a Master degree (or an equivalent diploma giving access to doctoral studies) in theoretical or technical physics, or a related field. Good verbal and written communication skills (in English) are mandatory. Knowledge of control and mathematical theory of non-linear models is strongly preferred.

Conditions of employment
When fulfilling a PhD position at NWO-I the Institutes Organisation of NWO, you will get the status of junior scientist. You will have an employee status and can participate in all the employee benefits NWO-I offers. You will get a contract for four years. Your salary will be up to a maximum of 2,937 euro gross per month. The salary is supplemented with a holiday allowance of 8 percent and an end-of-year bonus of 8.33 percent.  You are supposed to have a thesis finished at the end of your four year term with NWO-I.  A training programme is part of the agreement. You and your supervisor will make up a plan for the additional education and supervising that you specifically need. This plan also defines which teaching activities you will be responsible (up to a maximum of ten percent of your time). The conditions of employment of NWO-I are laid down in the Collective Labour Agreement for Research Centres (Cao-Onderzoekinstellingen), more exclusive information is available at this website under Personeelsinformatie (in Dutch) or under Personnel (in English). General information about working at NWO-I can be found in the English part of this website under Personnel. The 'Job interview code'applies to this position.

Further information on the vacancy is available through the leader of the fusion energy department:
Prof.dr. M.R. de Baar +31 40 333 49 52. 
In case you are interested you can apply by submitting an application letter, a grade list, (incl. full resume). Please refer to vacancy 17-004. The letter of application may be sent electronically