PhD and MSc opportunities

PhD studentDepending on resources, we aim every year to have new PhD and MSc projects with several UK universities addressing plasma physics, materials science and fusion engineering associated with tokamaks, providing a range of exciting research opportunities.

The projects range from the theoretical, through computational modelling, to experimental studies. Most students are based at Culham Centre for Fusion Energy, while some are based at their university. All have both a Culham and a university supervisor.

Typically starting each October, we run a broad range of PhD and MSc projects with about eight different university departments. Please check this page for updates on opportunities.

PhD, University of York, Department of Physics

The role of magnetic geometry in controlling plasma transport in magnetic fusion energy devices

Closing date: 1 May 2014


Magnetic fields are used to confine hot plasmas in fusion energy research devices called tokamaks. Some amount of particles and energy leaks out of the tokamak and is channelled through a Scrapeoff Layer (SOL) to surrounding surfaces. The good confinement of particles and energy, due to reduction of cross-magnetic-field transport, leads to a very narrow SOL heat flux channel with power densities in a reactor predicted to be above GW/m2. Beyond using geometry - physics is required to dissipate/spread that power flux before it reaches material surfaces (‘divertor').

The goal of this PhD project is to develop new, and utilise existing, diagnostics at the TCV tokamak in Lausanne, Switzerland to a) understand the transport across the magnetic field in the region of the field null or x-point (use turbulence imaging) to test predictions of additional cross-field transport there, and b) bring new diagnostics to bear on the characteristics of the thermal condensation instability that occurs called ‘detachment' (occurs in solar prominences as well) which, while strongly dissipating the high power fluxes flowing along the field, is difficult to control and can lead to impurities in, and cooling of, the hot core plasma. Both of the above emphases would also couple to 3D turbulence modelling by the student at TCV and at York. TCV is unique in its capability to generate novel x-point configurations and has incredibly good diagnostic access allowing such studies. The work will also likely couple to similar studies on the MAST tokamak at Culham Centre for Fusion Energy in the UK.

University of York: York has become one of the top ten universities in the UK for teaching and research – and is first in the UK and seventh in the world in the Times Higher Education world rankings of universities less than 50 years old. The York Plasma Institute (YPI), in the Physics Department, is a collaboration between the University of York and the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). There are 13 Physics faculties associated with Plasma Science with emphases in magnetic confinement, low-temperature plasmas and laser-plasma interactions.

The primary research would be carried out at the TCV tokamak that is part of École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. Twenty credits of Physics courses are required by the University of York Physics department and can be achieved through some combination of Plasma courses at York and EPFL where the courses will be provided in English. While the lab is located in a French-speaking city the general business of the tokamak is conducted in English. It is a bonus to speak French.

For diagrams please see the following page:

Funding notes:

The PhD position will provide full fees and a stipend of £13,726 per annum. The stipend will be enhanced for the time in Switzerland to allow for higher living costs.


Informal academic enquiries should be directed to Professor Bruce Lipschultz ( at the University of York, with a copy of your CV and covering letter indicating your background and interests. After initial discussions references will be needed.