Research is conducted in the following areas:
- Modeling of plasma/material behavior and interaction. A fully equipped computer laboratory is housed at the PMTF for analytical and experimental support of high-heat flux experiments. Thermal hydraulic and thermal stress modeling and fluid flow analysis of experiments are routinely performed using the ABAQUS, PATRAN, Star-CCM+, CFDESIGN and FLUENT FEM/FVM codes. E&M analysis of plasma facing components is also performed using the Opera suite of codes developed by Vector Fields, Ltd. Custom software has been developed to model plasma evolution and disruptions, as well as runaway electron generation. An elaborate infrared analysis program known as SandIR was developed to obtain absolute temperature distributions on surfaces in real-time. The professional staff includes four Ph.D.s with over 60 person-years experience in HHF testing, thermal hydraulics, stress analysis, and component development.
- Testing and evaluation under high heat flux conditions. Either the EB-1200 or the EBTS (two unique electron-beam systems available at PMTF) can be used to for testing a variety of materials and components under extremely severe surface heat loads. The 60 kW, Electron Beam Test System, which has many of the same diagnostics as the EB-1200, can also utilize helium and liquid metal coolants in the test article. Both e-beams can apply user-specified non-uniform heat load patterns through custom software written at Sandia. Examples of test articles include:
– Plasma facing components in fusion devices
– Microwave gyrotron cavities – Particle and photon beam dumps
– High temperature heat exchangers – High-temperature materials
– Advanced bonding techniques (e.g., diffusion bonding, specialty brazing, explosion bonding)
- Materials characterization. Materials characterization capabilities at the PMTF include a new high resolution, large area scanning electron microscope (SEM). The SEM has a resolution of 10 nm and is equipped with EDX and secondary electron analyses and backscattered electron imaging. Unique features of this SEM are its large vacuum chamber (~1 m dia.) and its large sample platen (25 cm x 25 cm in area).
- Electron beam physical vapor deposition. The PMTF has unique capabilities for large-area electron beam physical vapor deposition of coatings and multi-layers. A wide variety of raster patterns can be edited by the operator in real time to provide a uniform temperature distribution across an ingot, even for non-normal beam incidence. The software also has the capability to perform programmed, high speed pattern switching. This allows the EB-1200 to process two or more ingots simultaneously with each beam resulting in larger deposition plumes. Such capability also and permits the heating of multiple ingots of dissimilar materials with widely different vapor pressures using the same electron beam source.