The concept of the Centre rests upon three main ideas that are intertwined and of equal importance, and together they constitute the project.
- The first idea is the collaborative effort in basic research and training between developing and developed countries. The former need the sharing of technology and scientific knowledge which is a significant factor in the progress of humanity, while the latter need the active contribution of all interested countries, to share both human and capital costs. Collaboration is all the more justified if in a particular field, as in dense magnetised plasmas, physicists have reached similar scientific level in both groups of nations. Collaboration takes the form of a comprehensive training, education and exchange programme, to help lay down the foundation for experimental research, in countries where such tradition is yet to be established. This infrastructure in research and development is also fundamental to the developed states, if someday, technologically advanced commercial interests were to be extended worldwide.
- Matter in the plasma state is found in the whole universe. It is recognised that instabilities play a large-even dominant-role in plasmas and in particular in the ones formed by passing a large current through a gas. The current and the associated magnetic field heat and compress the plasma. In this class known as Dense Magnetised Plasmas there are the straight Z-pinch, the plasma Focus, the vacuum spark, exploded wires... They exhibit a whole range of highly complex non-linear phenomena. The second motivation of the Centre is then to make significant progress in understanding the detailed physics of this class of plasmas. The range of plasma density extends from 1016 to 1020 electrons cm-3 according to the specific experiment and to the phase considered. In the past, the relative simplicity of the apparatus for the investigation of dense magnetised plasmas has made it a favourable class of devices to do research on, and many results has been reported. However, the efforts are often piecewise and non-systematic as the sophisticated and highly precise diagnostics needed for a comprehensive study are beyond the financial capabilities of any one of the laboratories working on the subject. This has led to the situation that almost no definitive description is available to join up the numerous data points, even though some general pictures exist. The Centre is equipped with a collection of most up-to-date diagnostic techniques, gathered from experts from both developed and developing countries and addresses the scientific issues in a co-ordinated programme. It is not a Centre for the next largest apparatus, but instead a Centre of excellence, providing a focal point for researchers in dense magnetised plasma around the world, to make that quantitative step in our understanding of the physics of this class of experiment.
- The third motivation of the Centre is in application development and technology transfer. The open and linear structure of dense magnetised plasmas renders the devices simple and accessible. The rich sources of non-linear phenomena lead to the production of powerful electron and ion beams, and correspondingly of X-rays and neutrons (when deuterium is used as the working gas). These radiation and particle beams have already found uses in many practical applications. Much more can be done along these lines and particularly in developing countries, in which it may be advantageous to go directly to a newer and more advanced technology, when an older one is perhaps outdated or proprietary. This acquisition and adaptation of new advanced technology is made possible when a proper base is established.