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.
The tools used by researchers to assess the characteristics of superheated and electrically charged gases known as plasmas.
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.
Robert (Bob) Kaita is the head of plasma diagnostic operations and acting head of boundary physics operations for the National Spherical Torus Experiment (NSTX). Kaita is also a co-principal investigator of the Lithium Tokamak Experiment (LTX). He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and a recipient of the Kaul Foundation Prize for Excellence in Plasma Physics Research. He has supervised the research of many students in the PPPL Program in Plasma Physics in the Department of Astrophysical Sciences at Princeton University.
Stefan Gerhardt leads the Advanced Scenarios and Control research group in the NSTX organization. He operates numerous diagnostics on NSTX, along with designing plasma control schemes and running physics experiments. He has previously worked on a wide variety of fusion machines, including spherical tokamaks, stellarators, and field reversed configurations.
Plainsboro, New Jersey — The U.S. Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) honored three fusion energy researchers — Manfred Bitter, Robert Ellis, and Ken Hill — for their scientific accomplishments during an awards ceremony on March 8 at the laboratory. Physicists Bitter and Hill received the Kaul Prize for Excellence in Plasma Physics Research and Technology Development. Ellis, an engineer, received the PPPL Distinguished Engineering Fellow award.