A tokamak is a device using a magnetic field to confine a plasma in the shape of a torus (doughnut). Achieving a stable plasma equilibrium requires magnetic field lines that move around the torus in a helical shape. Such a helical field can be generated by adding a toroidal field (traveling around the torus in circles) and a poloidal field (traveling in circles orthogonal to the toroidal field). In a tokamak, the toroidal field is produced by electromagnets that surround the torus, and the poloidal field is the result of a toroidal electric current that flows inside the plasma. This current is induced inside the plasma with a second set of electromagnets.
The tokamak is one of several types of magnetic confinement devices, and is one of the most-researched candidates for producing controlled thermonuclear fusion power. Magnetic fields are used for confinement since no solid material could withstand the extremely high temperature of the plasma. An alternative to the tokamak is the stellarator.
Tokamaks were invented in the 1950s by Soviet physicists Igor Tamm and Andrei Sakharov, inspired by an original idea of Oleg Lavrentyev.
The Joint European Torus (JET) investigates the potential of fusion power as a safe, clean, and virtually limitless energy source for future generations. The largest tokamak in the world, it is the only operational fusion experiment capable of producing fusion energy. As a joint venture, JET is collectively used by more than 40 laboratories of EURATOM Associativos. The European Fusion Development Agreement, EFDA for short, provides the work platform to exploit JET in an efficient and focused way. As a consequence more than 350 scientists and engineers from all over Europe currently contribute to the JET programme.
The JET machine is at the Culham Science Centre near Abingdon, about 9 miles south from Oxford in the UK
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