Hi, I’m Erik Hermans and I’m a master student Applied physics. After finishing my bachelor in physics, I had to decide on my master specialization. I was looking for a subject which offered challenging physics and which resulted in practical application. With these requirements I found my ideal specialization in the fusion track. The promise of a clean, safe and sustainable energy source makes fusion very relevant for society. However, achieving commercial fusion is a technological and physical challenge which offers lots of opportunities for research.
As part of my program I did an internship at the University of Madison - Wisconsin, USA. I worked on the data analysis of the Charge Exchange Recombination Spectroscopy diagnostic. This diagnostic is used to determine the temperature and the flow velocity of the plasma in the fusion reactor by measuring the Doppler shift and Doppler broadening of the atomic radiation coming from the plasma. Working with a real fusion reactor clearly showed me the challenges involved in fusion.
My graduation project concerns the design, building and characterization of an actual fusion reactor. The device, called a fusor, is a spherically symmetric electrostatic confinement machine. The radial electric field accelerates the ions to fusion relevant energies and subsequent collisions between the ions or with neutral background atoms results in fusion. It is exciting to work towards achieving what the group is all about: fusion!