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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 is 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.

Major next steps proposed for development of fusion energy based on the spherical tokamak design

Among the top puzzles in the development of fusion energy is the best shape for the magnetic facility — or “bottle” — that will provide the next steps in the development of fusion reactors. Leading candidates include spherical tokamaks, compact machines that are shaped like cored apples, compared with the doughnut-like shape of conventional tokamaks.  The spherical design produces high-pressure plasmas — essential ingredients for fusion reactions — with relatively low and cost-effective magnetic fields.

PPPL and Princeton help lead a new center to understand and mitigate runaway electrons that pose a challenge for ITER

Runaway electrons, a searing, laser-like beam of electric current released by plasma disruptions, could damage the interior walls of future tokamaks the size of ITER, the international fusion experiment under construction in France. To help overcome this challenge, leading experts in the field have launched a multi-institutional center to find ways to prevent or mitigate such events.

PPPL and Princeton help lead a new center to understand and mitigate runaway electrons that pose a challenge for ITER

Runaway electrons, a searing, laser-like beam of electric current released by plasma disruptions, could damage the interior walls of future tokamaks the size of ITER, the international fusion experiment under construction in France. To help overcome this challenge, leading experts in the field have launched a multi-institutional center to find ways to prevent or mitigate such events.

Simulations by PPPL physicists suggest that external magnetic fields can calm plasma instabilities

Physicists led by Gerrit Kramer at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) have conducted simulations that suggest that applying magnetic fields to fusion plasmas can control instabilities known as Alfvén waves that can reduce the efficiency of fusion reactions. Such instabilities can cause quickly moving charged particles called "fast ions" to escape from the core of the plasma, which is corralled within machines known as tokamaks.

Simulations by PPPL physicists suggest that external magnetic fields can calm plasma instabilities

Physicists led by Gerrit Kramer at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) have conducted simulations that suggest that applying magnetic fields to fusion plasmas can control instabilities known as Alfvén waves that can reduce the efficiency of fusion reactions. Such instabilities can cause quickly moving charged particles called "fast ions" to escape from the core of the plasma, which is corralled within machines known as tokamaks. 

PPPL wins contract for plasma-materials interaction studies on EAST tokamak

sma-materials interaction (PMI)on the Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) in China. The centerpiece of the PPPL role in this project is the optimization of lithium delivery systems. The tests will be designed to optimize the production of long-pulse plasmas that last from 30 seconds to more than one minute. This project is supported by Fusion Energy Sciences in the DOE Office of Science.

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