The tools used by researchers to assess the characteristics of superheated and electrically charged gases known as plasmas.
Dutch graduate student Jasper van Rens recently completed a three-month assignment at PPPL to study a diagnostic technique that will be crucial to the success of ITER, the huge international fusion facility under construction in France. Working with Fred Levinton and Howard Yuh of PPPL subcontractor Nova Photonics, Van Rens investigated the impact of reflected light on the ITER Motional Stark Effect (MSE) instrument, which measures the internal magnetic configuration of fusion plasmas.
Leading experts from around the world gathered at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) in July to focus on a key issue for the development of fusion energy: Improving ways to predict and mitigate disruptions that can destroy magnetically confined plasmas that are needed for fusion reactions.
Phil Heitzenroeder, who leads the Mechanical Engineering Division at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) and whose advice is sought by engineers around the world, has won the 2013 Fusion Technology Award. The high honor from the Nuclear and Plasma Sciences Society of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) recognizes outstanding contributions to research and development in the field of fusion technology.
When the ITER experimental fusion reactor begins operation in the 2020s, over 40 diagnostic tools will provide essential data to researchers seeking to understand plasma behavior and optimize fusion performance. But before the ITER tokamak is built, researchers need to determine an efficient way of fitting all of these tools into a limited number of shielded ports that will protect the delicate diagnostic hardware and other parts of the machine from neutron flux and intense heat.
Physicist Rajesh Maingi remembers nearly everything. Results of experiments he did 20 years ago play back instantly in his mind, as do his credit card and bank account numbers.
His knack for recalling research results comes in particularly handy. “Knowing results from five-to-20 years ago makes it easier to ask the right questions for contemporary scientific programs,” Maingi said. Such findings have made him a leading expert on key aspects of the physics of plasma, the superhot, charged gas that fuels fusion reactions in donut-shaped magnetic facilities called tokamaks.
Three teams led by scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) have won major blocks of time on two of the world’s most powerful supercomputers. Two of the projects seek to advance the development of nuclear fusion as a clean and abundant source of energy by improving understanding of the superhot, electrically charged plasma gas that fuels fusion reactions.
David Johnson is a principal research physicist with broad experience in techniques and instrumentation for measuring the characteristics of magnetic fusion plasmas. He has specific expertise in laser Thomson scattering systems, and has installed and operated such systems on many fusion devices around the world. He managed a division of plasma diagnostic experts for the Tokamak Fusion Test Reactor (TFTR) and National Spherical Torus Experiment (NSTX) projects, more recently becoming the Work Breakdown Structure Team Leader for US ITER Diagnostics.