One of the great challenges of this century is to determine if nuclear fusion of hydrogen isotopes can be demonstrated in the laboratory and developed into an unlimited carbon-free energy source. Recently, experiments on laser-driven targets have begun on the National Ignition Facility to reach temperatures and densities more extreme than the center of the sun.
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.
With the potential to provide clean, safe, and abundant energy, nuclear fusion has been called the “holy grail” of energy production. But harnessing energy from fusion, the process that powers the sun, has proven to be an extremely difficult challenge.
Scientists have been working to accomplish efficient, self-sustaining fusion reactions for decades, and significant research and development efforts continue in several countries today.
PPPL collaborations have been instrumental in developing a system to suppress instabilities that could degrade the performance of a fusion plasma. PPPL has built and installed such a system on the DIII-D tokamak that General Atomics operates for the U.S. Department of Energy in San Diego and on the Korea Superconducting Tokamak Advanced Research (KSTAR) facility in South Korea — and now is revising the KSTAR design to operate during extended plasma experiments.
An online physics experiment for students and teachers
PPPL is developing a new and more powerful version of its world-leading Magnetic Reconnection Experiment (MRX), which recreates one of the most common but least understood phenomena in the universe. This phenomenon, in which the magnetic field lines in plasma snap apart and violently reconnect, occurs throughout the cosmos and gives rise to the northern lights, solar flares and geomagnetic storms that can disrupt cell-phone service and black out power grids.
Research conducted by PPPL in collaboration with the University of Alberta provides a key step toward the development of ever-more powerful computer chips. The researchers discovered the physics behind a mysterious process that gives chipmakers unprecedented control of a recent plasma-based technique for etching transistors on integrated circuits, or chips. This discovery could help to maintain Moore’s Law, which observes that the number of transistors on integrated circuits doubles nearly every two years
Researchers led by scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) have won highly competitive allocations of time on two of the world’s fastest supercomputers. The increased awards are designed to advance the development of nuclear fusion as a clean and abundant source of energy for generating electricity.
COLLOQUIUM RE-SCHEDULED FROM JAN. 22 TO JAN 28
The Sun emits a constant flow of particles from its surface. Mainly composed of Protons and electrons, and dragging with it magnetic fields, this Solar Wind expands outwards from the sun, interacting with planets and spacecraft alike. Since the 1960s, in situ observations have shown that the solar wind is comprised of two distinct states: slow (300550 km/s) and fast (600800 km/s). Temperature, density, and compositional variations between the two suggest different sources for the fast and slow solar wind.
Researchers at Princeton University and the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) have launched a new center to study the volatile heliosphere — a complex and frequently violent region of space that encompasses the solar system. This region is carved out by the solar wind — charged plasma particles that constantly stream from the sun — and gives rise to space weather that can disrupt cell phone service, damage satellites and knock out power grids.
Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory managed by Princeton University.
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