Abstract: The Coulombic repulsion between hydrogen isotopes inhibits nuclear fusion by creating an energy barrier that requires immense energies to overcome classically. Thus, quantum tunneling is the primary mechanism behind fusion reactions. Even so, a plasma with a Maxwell-Boltzmann energy distribution requires heating to temperatures of ~10^8 K before fusion is reliably achieved. This high temperature threshold poses a multifaceted challenge to the development of fusion reactors. Non-Maxwellian “kappa” distributions have long been of interest in the empirical study of space plasmas, and their deviation from a Maxwellian distribution at certain energy ranges could lead to enhanced predictions for tunneling rates at lower temperatures. In this thesis, a numerical approximation scheme is developed to compute the quantum-mechanical tunneling coefficient of a particle incident upon the Coulombic barrier, such that the reactivity of a kappa-distributed nuclear plasma can be computed.
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