Topology for Nuclear Fusion


The precise shape and structure of magnetic fields is of key importance in understanding and controlling the behaviour of plasma inside of nuclear fusion reactors. In a plasma, magnetic field lines have a near physical character; the plasma is confined to the trajectories that field lines trace in space. This makes topology, in particular the classification of curves in space (knot theory), and the structure of mappings induced by the field immensely powerful tools.

In my research, I will use these mathematical tools to tackle two important problems relevant to fusion. First, I will investigate the novel self-organizing knotted magnetic structure which I identified in my graduate research. Collaborating with the experts at Princeton, I will map out the parameters when this structure is stable, and in what regime it can be used for nuclear fusion.

Secondly I will study Sawtooth reconnection, a performance limiting disruption that cools the plasma core. During this process the regular structure of the field is overthrown, but powerful mathematical theorems guarantee that there will be ordered regions in the chaos. I will use these theorems to better understand this process and how to mitigate it.


Project number


Main applicant

Drs. C.B. Smiet

Affiliated with

Universiteit Leiden, Faculteit der Wiskunde en Natuurwetenschappen, Leids Instituut Onderzoek Natuurkunde Quantumoptica B


06/11/2017 to 01/10/2019