Press Releases Archive
Imène Goumiri, a Princeton University graduate student, has worked with physicists at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) to simulate a method for limiting instabilities that reduce the performance of fusion plasmas. The more instabilities there are, the less efficiently doughnut-shaped fusion facilities called tokamaks operate. The journal Nuclear Fusion published results of this research in February 2016.
Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) have helped design and test a component that could improve the performance of doughnut-shaped fusion facilities known as tokamaks. Called a "liquid lithium limiter," the device has circulated the protective liquid metal within the walls of China's Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) and kept the plasma from cooling down and halting fusion reactions. The journal Nuclear Fusion published results of the experiment in March 2016. The research was supported by the DOE Office of Science.
Some 575 seventh- to tenth-grade girls from throughout New Jersey, as well as Pennsylvania and Maryland, found fun and inspiration doing myriad hands-on activities and meeting female scientists at The Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory’s 15th annual Young Women’s Conference in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) on March 18. They talked to investigators from the FBI, watched colorful infrared images of themselves, played with robots, learned about electronics and plasma physics, saw cool chemistry, and heard about careers in STEM.
The world of fusion energy is a world of extremes. For instance, the center of the ultrahot plasma contained within the walls of doughnut-shaped fusion machines known as tokamaks can reach temperatures well above the 15 million degrees Celsius core of the sun. And even though the portion of the plasma closer to the tokamak's inner walls is 10 to 20 times cooler, it still has enough energy to erode the layer of liquid lithium that may be used to coat components that face the plasma in future tokamaks.
Physicists have long regarded plasma turbulence as unruly behavior that can limit the performance of fusion experiments. But new findings by researchers associated with the U.S.
Big Bang neutrinos are believed to be everywhere in the universe but have never been seen. The expansion of the universe has stretched them and they are thought to be billions of times colder than neutrinos that stream from the sun. As the oldest known witnesses or “relics” of the early universe, they could shed new light on the birth of the cosmos if scientists could pin them down. That’s a tall order since these ghostly particles can speed through planets as if they were empty space.
The path to creating sustainable fusion energy as a clean, abundant and affordable source of electric energy has been filled with “aha moments” that have led to a point in history when the international fusion experiment, ITER, is poised to produce more fusion energy than it uses when it is completed in 15 to 20 years, said Ed Synakowski, associate director of Science for Fusion Energy Sciences at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).
Fifty seventh- and eighth-graders from John Witherspoon Middle School in Princeton came to PPPL for a half day on March 4 to become scientists – doing a variety of hands-on science activities, from building a motor to sampling ice cream frozen with liquid nitrogen in a cryogenics demonstration, to watching cool plasma demonstrations of lightning, static electricity and stars. They left wanting more.
The electric current that powers fusion experiments requires superb control. Without it, the magnetic coils the current drives cannot contain and shape the plasma that fuels experiments in doughnut-shaped tokamaks correctly.
When you think of a physicist, what comes to mind? Perhaps a figure in a white lab coat tinkering with complex machinery. Or maybe a wild-haired theoretician scribbling equations on a chalkboard. And you might believe that the world of physics is entirely consumed with numbers and devices, with no connection to the non-scientific world.
The life of a subatomic particle can be hectic. The charged nuclei and electrons that zip around the vacuum vessels of doughnut-shaped fusion machines known as tokamaks are always in motion. But while that motion helps produce the fusion reactions that could power a new class of electricity generator, the turbulence it generates can also limit those reactions.
As the most powerful spherical tokamak in the world, the National Spherical Torus Experiment-Upgrade (NSTX-U) at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) produces magnetic forces that are far greater than what its predecessor could generate. Moreover, the power supply system that drives current in the fusion facility’s electromagnetic coils can potentially produce even higher forces unless properly constrained.
The announcement Feb. 11 of the detection of gravitational waves, predicted by Albert Einstein some 100 years ago, created a surge of excitement among physicists worldwide, including many with ties to Princeton University. Early evidence for the waves was found several decades ago by Princeton astrophysicist Joseph Taylor and Russell Hulse, a former physicist for the U.S. Department of Energy's Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. They received the Nobel Prize in physics in 1993.
Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) physicists collaborating on the Wendelstein 7-X (W 7-X) stellarator fusion energy device in Greifswald, Germany, were on hand for the Feb. 3 celebration when German Chancellor Angela Merkel pushed a button to produce a hydrogen-fueled superhot gas called a plasma. The occasion officially recognized a device that is the largest and most advanced fusion experiment of its kind in the world.
Shannon Greco, a science education program leader at PPPL, has been named one of the YWCA Princeton’s “women of excellence” for her work with young women and disadvantaged youth, including her help in starting two all-girls robotics teams for the YWCA Princeton.
The U.S Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded a total of 80 million processor hours on the fastest supercomputer in the nation to an astrophysical project based at the DOE’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL). The grants will enable researchers led by Amitava Bhattacharjee, head of the Theory Department at PPPL, and physicist Will Fox to study the dynamics of magnetic fields in the high-energy density plasmas that lasers create. Such plasmas can closely approximate those that occur in some astrophysical objects.
From launching the most powerful spherical tokamak on Earth to discovering a mechanism that halts solar eruptions, scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory advanced the boundaries of clean energy and plasma science research in 2015. Here, in no particular order, are our picks for the Top-5 developments of the year:
Engineers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) have finished designing a novel component for the Wendelstein 7-X (W7-X) stellarator, which recently opened at the Max Planck Institute of Plasma Physics (IPP) in Griefswald, Germany. Known as a "test divertor unit (TDU) scraper element," the component intercepts some of the heat flowing towards the divertor — a part of the machine that collects heat and particles as they escape from the plasma before they hit the stellarator wall or degrade the plasma's performance.
Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) have produced self-consistent computer simulations that capture the evolution of an electric current inside fusion plasma without using a central electromagnet, or solenoid. The simulations of the process, known as non-inductive current ramp-up, were performed using TRANSP, the gold-standard code developed at PPPL. The results were published in October 2015 in Nuclear Fusion. The research was supported by the DOE Office of Science.
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