Tom completed his Masters in Physics at the University of Oxford, and is now a PhD student at the University of York, with the York Plasma Institute (graduating 2020). He works at Culham Centre for Fusion Energy in Oxfordshire.
One of the biggest obstacles to achieving commercial fusion energy is the excessive heat and particle fluxes that the divertor (exhaust system) of future magnetic-confinement fusion reactors will be subject to. The fluxes on this critical component are primarily determined by the transport of heat and particles in the Scrape Off Layer (SOL). This behaviour is in turn largely determined by the motions of coherent plasma structures called filaments, which are significantly more dense and hot than the surrounding plasma, and highly elongated along the magnetic field. Tom's work involves using computer simulations to advance current understanding of the dynamics of these filaments, to gain insight into SOL turbulence and transport, and to better predict the heat fluxes on the divertor.
He concentrates on simulating the newly-upgraded super-X divertor configuration of MAST-U, a UK experiment at CCFE, before it begins plasma operations.