In a rare transition, engineer Russ Feder has stepped into a management job that a distinguished physicist last held. Feder leads PPPL’s development of all diagnostic tools for US ITER, which manages U.S. contributions to the international ITER experiment, succeeding physicist Dave Johnson in that role. “I’m excited to keep the momentum going and proud to be part of our strong team,” Feder said. “I also recognize the tough challenges of the job and will need the help of our team and the U.S. diagnostics community to be successful.”
The tools used by researchers to assess the characteristics of superheated and electrically charged gases known as plasmas.
Some 135 researchers, graduate students, and staff members from PPPL joined 1,500 research scientists from around the world at the 56th annual meeting of the American Physical Society Division of Plasma Physics Conference from Oct. 27 to Oct. 31 in New Orleans. Topics in the sessions ranged from waves in plasma to the physics of ITER, the international physics experiment in Cadarache, France; to women in plasma physics. Dozens of PPPL scientists presented the results of their cutting-edge research into magnetic fusion and plasma science.
This lecture reviews the development of x-ray spectroscopy at PPPL, which began in the 1970’s on the ST (Symmetric Tokamak) and has had a significant impact on the magnetic fusion research program worldwide. Several important physics parameters can be measured with these techniques.
When scientists at the Korea Supercomputing Tokamak Advanced Research (KSTAR) facility needed a crucial new component, they turned to PPPL engineer Bob Ellis. His task: Design a water-cooled fixed mirror that can withstand high heat loads for up to 300 seconds while directing microwaves beamed from launchers to heat the plasma that fuels fusion reactions.
Kenneth Hill and Manfred Bitter are scientific pioneers who have collaborated seamlessly for more than 35 years. Together they have revolutionized a key instrument in the quest to harness fusion energy — a device called an X-ray crystal spectrometer that is used around the world to reveal strikingly detailed information about the hot, charged plasma gas that fuels fusion reactions.
Physicist Brian Grierson of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) has won a highly competitive Early Career Research Program award sponsored by the DOE’s Office of Science. The five-year grant will total some $2.5 million and fund exploration of the mechanisms that govern the formation and maintenance of the hot edge of fusion plasmas — the electrically charged gas that results in fusion reactions in facilities called tokamaks. The work will be carried out on the DIII-D National Fusion Facility in San Diego.
With the potential to provide clean, safe, and abundant energy, nuclear fusion has been called the “holy grail” of energy production. But harnessing energy from fusion, the process that powers the sun, has proven to be an extremely difficult challenge.
Scientists have been working to accomplish efficient, self-sustaining fusion reactions for decades, and significant research and development efforts continue in several countries today.
A key issue for the development of fusion energy to generate electricity is the ability to confine the superhot, charged plasma gas that fuels fusion reactions in magnetic devices called tokamaks. This gas is subject to instabilities that cause it to leak from the magnetic fields and halt fusion reactions.
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