The plasma-material interface and its impact on the performance of magnetically confined thermonuclear fusion plasmas are considered to be one of the key scientific gaps in the realization of nuclear fusion power. At this interface, high particle and heat flux from the fusion plasma can limit the material's lifetime and reliability and therefore hinder operation of the fusion device. Lithium-based surfaces are now being used in major magnetic confinement fusion devices and have observed profound effects on plasma performance including enhanced confinement, suppression and control of edge localized modes (ELM), lower hydrogen recycling and impurity suppression. The critical spatial scale length of deuterium and helium particle interactions in lithium ranges between 5-100 nm depending on the incident particle energies at the edge and magnetic configuration. Lithium-based surfaces also range from liquid state to solid lithium coatings on a variety of substrates (e.g., graphite, stainless steel, refractory metal W/Mo/etc., or porous metal structures). Temperature-dependent effects from lithium-based surfaces as plasma facing components (PFC) include magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) instability issues related to liquid lithium, surface impurity, and deuterium retention issues, and anomalous physical sputtering increase at temperatures above lithium's melting point. The paper discusses the viability of lithium-based surfaces in future burning-plasma environments such as those found in ITER and DEMO-like fusion reactor devices.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Condensed Matter Physics