Our group leader’s reflections to mark the International Day of Women and Girls in Science

From left to right, top: Lara San Martin, Marta Florido, Alba Gordó. From left to right, bottom: Ruth Mora Soto and Mervi Mantsinen

Our Fusion group is hosted by Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC), which is one of the many research centers in Spain and worldwide that still have steps to take to reach gender equality.

Despite the recent progress there is still a great deal to do in this area given the fact that only about 25% of the BSC workforce is female and among the research groups only about 20% are led by female scientist. Moreover, none of the nine directors of the center is a woman, while the situation with the Governance Boards has improved slightly over the past years, with 18% and 27% of women currently in the Board of Trustees and Executive Committee and the Scientific Advisor Board, respectively. Our gender and diversity plan to improve this situation is available here.

Our Fusion group is one of the few groups at BSC led by a woman researcher, i.e. myself ICREA Research Prof. Dr Mervi Mantsinen.

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Our contributions to the historic fusion experiments at Joint European Torus (JET)

View from the control room of the JET tokamak during an experiment (picture from the pre-covid era)

The fusion community is living interesting times as the Deuterium-Tritium (D-T) campaign at the Joint European Torus (JET, UK) approaches. This is the type of plasma with the greatest fusion cross section and, therefore, the one with the highest chances of providing commercial fusion energy. This campaign will serve as a testbed for ITER‘s future experiments, the experimental fusion reactor that should provide 10 times the energy which is actually used to operate the machine. 

One of the main focus of study for the fusion community is the so-called isotope effect. This is the impact that different atomic masses of the hydrogen (H) isotope, D and T, have on the plasma behaviour, or more precisely, on its confinement.  At the moment, such valuable experiments can only be done at JET. There is a big international team conducting these experiments, however, we would like to emphasize in this post the role of some of the Spanish scientists involved in these experiments and, in particular, the role of our Fusion Group members, Mervi Mantsinen and Dani Gallart. The role of these scientists is different in each case, nevertheless, the final goal is always the same, make fusion energy a reality some day.

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EUROfusion webinar series on GPU topics

EUROfusion has organized a series of monthly webinars to address several GPU topics to help the fusion community to use this architecture on new supercomputers. The webinars consist of talks from programing paradigms to the developers’ experience, vendors’ technical talks, etc.

All the talks are recorded and there are publicly available on YouTube EUROfusion channel. Presentation and questions slides can be found on EUROfusion website.

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47th EPS Plasma Physics conference moves online

More than three years ago, Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC) was chosen as the Local Organizer (LOC) for the 47th European Physical Society (EPS) Conference on Plasma Physics on June 22-26, 2020, in Sitges, Spain. In April 2020, due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, the LOC together with the EPS Plasma Physics Division Board and the Programme Committee came to the conclusion that it is best to postpone the conference by one year to June 21-25, 2021.

Unfortunately, the outbreak is still on-going, and we have reluctantly had to conclude that it is not possible to deliver an in-person event in Sitges in June 2021. This decision reflects concerns and uncertainties arising from the present public health situation, which will inevitably affect all aspects of conference organization and travel on the relevant timescale.

The conference together with its satellite meeting will take place online. The dates of the conference remain unchanged: 21-25 June 2021. Please find our joint official announcement below which is also available on the conference web site.

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The flexibilities of wavelets for electronic structure calculations in large systems

The video recording and slides from the webinar given by our BigDFT collaborators on the 12th of November 2020, titled “The Flexibilities of Wavelets for Electronic Structure Calculations in Large systems”, is now available on the MaX Centre’s webpage. The webinar presents some of the features made possible by the peculiar properties of Daubechies wavelets, and it focuses on the usage of Density Functional Theory (DFT) for large-scale systems.

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Overview on MAST Upgrade’s first plasma shot

The MAST-Upgrade tokamak commenced operation with its first plasma at Culham Centre for Fusion Energy, the United Kingdom on 29 October 2020. As a result of the seven-year upgrade programme for the Mega Ampere Spherical Tokamak (MAST), essentially a complete new fusion device was built with a stronger magnetic field and higher heating power.

Prof. Ian Chapman, the chief executive of the UK Atomic Energy Authority said: “MAST Upgrade will take us closer to delivering sustainable, clean fusion energy. This experiment will break new ground and test technology that has never been tried before. It will be a vital testing facility on our journey to delivering the STEP fusion power plant.

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