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Plasma physics

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The study of plasma, a partially-ionized gas that is electrically conductive and able to be confined within a magnetic field, and how it releases energy.

Stewart Prager

Stewart Prager was the sixth director of PPPL. He joined the Laboratory in 2009 after a long career at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. At Wisconsin, he led research on the “Madison Symmetric Torus” (MST) experiment and headed a center that studied plasmas in both the laboratory and the cosmos. He also co-discovered the “bootstrap current” there—a key finding that has influenced the design of today’s tokamaks. He earned his PhD in plasma physics from Columbia University.

Magnetic reconnection research sheds light on explosive phenomena in astrophysics and fusion experiments

Scientists are closer than ever to unraveling a process called magnetic reconnection that triggers explosive phenomena throughout the universe.  Solar flares, northern lights and geomagnetic storms that can disrupt cell phone service and black out power grids are all set off by magnetic field lines that converge, break apart and violently reconnect in ways that are not fully understood.

Magnetic reconnection research sheds light on explosive phenomena in astrophysics and fusion experiments

Scientists are closer than ever to unraveling a process called magnetic reconnection that triggers explosive phenomena throughout the universe.  Solar flares, northern lights and geomagnetic storms that can disrupt cell phone service and black out power grids are all set off by magnetic field lines that converge, break apart and violently reconnect in ways that are not fully understood.

PPPL and Max Planck physicists confirm the precision of magnetic fields in the most advanced stellarator in the world

Physicist Sam Lazerson of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) has teamed with German scientists to confirm that the Wendelstein 7-X (W7-X) fusion energy device called a stellarator in Greifswald, Germany, produces high-quality magnetic fields that are consistent with their complex design.

PPPL and Max Planck physicists confirm the precision of magnetic fields in the most advanced stellarator in the world

Physicist Sam Lazerson of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) has teamed with German scientists to confirm that the Wendelstein 7-X (W7-X) fusion energy device called a stellarator in Greifswald, Germany, produces high-quality magnetic fields that are consistent with their complex design.

PPPL and Princeton researchers propose an explanation for the mysterious onset of a universal process

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) and Princeton University have proposed a groundbreaking solution to a mystery that has puzzled physicists for decades. At issue is how magnetic reconnection, a universal process that sets off solar flares, northern lights and cosmic gamma-ray bursts, occurs so much faster than theory says should be possible.

PPPL and Princeton researchers propose an explanation for the mysterious onset of a universal process

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) and Princeton University have proposed a groundbreaking solution to a mystery that has puzzled physicists for decades. At issue is how magnetic reconnection, a universal process that sets off solar flares, northern lights and cosmic gamma-ray bursts, occurs so much faster than theory says should be possible.

PPPL senior physicist Wei-li Lee honored at week-long symposium

Physicists from around the world gathered at the University of California, Irvine this past summer for a symposium in honor of Wei-li Lee, a senior physicist at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL). The week-long event, held from July 18-22, focused on gyrokinetic simulation — a technique Lee invented in the 1980s to model the behavior of particles within plasma, the ultrahot gas composed of electrons and atomic nuclei that fuels fusion reactions.

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