• November 18, 2019
  • 4:00 p.m.
  • 210 Robeson Hall
  • Dr. Thomas Weber
  • Faculty Host: Dr. Colin Adams

Nuclear fusion, the process by which two atomic nuclei combine, represents a potentially unlimited source of clean energy, if it can be released in a controlled manner. This elusive goal has motivated research into controlled fusion for almost 70 years; now as traditional approaches near the point of energy breakeven, a number of new concepts are making rapid progress in a regime that could result in smaller scale reactors, greatly reduced costs, and accelerated timelines to deployment. This seminar will present the motivation and physics behind the quest for controlled fusion, requirements for energy gain, discussion of the various approaches to fusion energy, and prospects for achieving fusion breakeven in the near term, including a number of concepts pursued by government and private companies.

Bio: Thomas Weber is presently a staff scientist in the Physics Division at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). He earned a B.S. Aerospace Engineering with a minor in Astrophysics from the University of Minnesota in 2005 and went on to earn his M.S. in 2007 and Ph.D. in 2010 from the Department of Aeronautics & Astronautics at the University of Washington. His graduate research spanned the development of novel high-power plasma thrusters for space propulsion and investigations of alternative magnetic confinement concepts for fusion energy. Since 2010, his research portfolio at LANL has included magneto-inertial fusion research, plasma diagnostic development, laboratory astrophysics, pulsed radiation sources, and magnetized shock physics in flow-dominated plasmas.