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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.

Renowned energy expert Emily Carter returns to Princeton to advise PPPL on sustainability science

Emily A. Carter, former dean of the Princeton University School of Engineering and Applied Science, and most recently executive vice chancellor and provost at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), has been named Senior Strategic Advisor for Sustainability Science at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), Steve Cowley, PPPL director, has announced.

Three PPPL scientists win competitive awards to conduct frontier plasma science research

World-class expertise in the study of plasma — the hot, charged state of matter composed of free electrons and atomic nuclei, or ions, that makes up 99 percent of the visible universe — has won frontier science projects for three physicists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL).

PPPL scientists win highly competitive awards to bring cosmic processes to Earth

Proven capability to recreate cosmic forces in the laboratory has won highly competitive contract awards for physicists Will Fox and Derek Schaeffer at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) and Princeton University. The joint DOE Office of Science and National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) three-year awards will enable Fox and Schaeffer to use powerful lasers to reproduce high-energy astrophysical plasmas under extreme conditions to probe processes such as space storms that can disrupt cell phone service and electric power grids.

Scientists demonstrate pathway to forerunner of rugged nanotubes that could lead to widespread industrial fabrication

Scientists have identified a chemical pathway to an innovative insulating nanomaterial that could lead to large-scale industrial production for a variety of uses – including in spacesuits and military vehicles. The nanomaterial -- thousands of times thinner than a human hair, stronger than steel and noncombustible -- could block radiation to astronauts and help shore up military vehicle armor, for example.

The Lab in the living room: Summer interns delve into plasma and fusion research from their homes

Summer interns working for PPPL did hands-on research from their computers in their bedrooms or on their dining room tables all over the U.S. They worked closely with PPPL physicists and engineers on research aimed at understanding ionized gases called plasmas and helping to develop fusion energy as the energy of the future.

A gem of a lab will bring the world of quantum physics into the light

The novel design for a next-generation diamond sensor with capabilities that range from producing magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of single molecules to detecting slight anomalies in the Earth’s magnetic field to guide aircraft that lack access to global positioning systems (GPS) will be developed by a collaboration of scientists led by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL).

PPPL physicist helps confirm a major advance in stellarator performance for fusion energy

Stellarators, twisty magnetic devices that aim to harness on Earth the fusion energy that powers the sun and stars, have long played second fiddle to more widely used doughnut-shaped facilities known as tokamaks. The complex twisted stellarator magnets have been difficult to design and have previously allowed greater leakage of the superhigh heat from fusion reactions. 

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