Atomic and molecular physics issues in current thermonuclear fusion research
The crucial role of atomic and molecular collision processes in a number of outstanding issues in current magnetic fusion research is discussed. These issues are related to the achievement and control of thermonuclear burn conditions, thermal power and particle exhaust, and the optimization of fusion reactor performance. The status of the present knowledge on the characteristics of collision processes (cross sections, reaction rate coefficients) involved in these fusion research issues is presented. Significant gaps in this knowledge that prevent a full understanding of the background physics of the above mentioned fusion research problems and may affect the ways of their solution are identified. One of the purposes of the present article is to provide a motivation for undertaking the necessary atomic and molecular physics studies for bridging these gaps.