The latest advances in plasma physics were the focus of more than 1,000 scientists from around the world who gathered in Providence, R.I., from Oct. 29 through Nov. 2 for the 54th Annual Meeting of the American Physical Society’s Division of Plasma Physics (APS-DPP). Papers, posters and presentations ranged from fusion plasma discoveries applicable to ITER, to research on 3D magnetic fields and antimatter. In all, more than 1,800 papers were discussed during the week-long event.
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.
Research to develop fusion energy has shown “significant progress” in many areas, according to a new report from the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), a think tank whose members represent some 90 percent of the electricity produced in the United States. At the same time, the report said that a commercial fusion power plant is at least 30 years away, and called for more research on the engineering challenges.
The French government has capped more than two years of review by issuing a license for the construction of ITER, the international fusion project that the European Union, the United States and five other countries are building in Cadarache, France, to demonstrate the feasibility of fusion energy. French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault signed the decree authorizing the license on Nov. 10, 2012. The move confirms the safety of the ITER project and clears the way for its construction.
Robert Goldston is a professor of Astrophysical Sciences at Princeton University and an international leader in the fields of plasma physics and magnetic fusion energy. From 1997 to 2009 he served as Director of PPPL. He is the author of 220 papers in journals and conference proceedings, and in 1995 co- authored with Paul Rutherford the textbook “Introduction to Plasma Physics.” He is a contributing author to five other books. In 1988, he was awarded the American Physical Society Prize for Excellence in Plasma Physics.
Heat escaping from the core of a twelve-million degree nuclear fusion plasma device was successfully contained by a snowflake-shaped magnetic field to mitigate its impact on device walls.
Researchers at a recent worldwide conference on fusion power have confirmed the surprising accuracy of a new model for predicting the size of a key barrier to fusion that a top scientist at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) has developed. The model could serve as a starting point for overcoming the barrier.
Michael Zarnstorff has been deputy director of research at PPPL since 2009 and a physicist at PPPL since 1984. As deputy director, he oversees physics experiments at PPPL and collaborations on fusion experiments around the world. Zarnstorff graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a Ph.D. in physics in 1984.
Stefan Gerhardt is head of Experimental Research Operations for the National Spherical Torus Experiment- Upgrade (NSTX-U). He operates numerous diagnostics on NSTX-U, along with designing plasma control schemes and running physics experiments. He has previously worked on a wide variety of fusion machines, including spherical tokamaks, stellarators, and field reversed configurations.
Ahmed Diallo is leader of the pedestal structure and control topical science group of the National Spherical Torus Experiment-Upgrade (NSTX-U) and is a recipient of a DOE Early Career award. He is developing a fast burst laser system to investigate the dynamics of the pedestal as well as to control it. He has contributed to the upgrade of the Thomson scattering diagnostic system in preparation for the NSTX-U, and has participated in the operation of the NSTX and the Thomson scattering system prior to their upgrades.
Charles Gentile is head of the Tritium Systems Group at PPPL. He led a team at PPPL to create a Miniature Integrated Nuclear Detection System, called MINDS, which can be used to scan moving vehicles, luggage, cargo vessels, and the like for specific nuclear signatures associated with materials employed in radiological weapons. MINDS could be employed at work- place entrances, post offices, tollbooths, airports, commercial shipping ports, and in police cruisers to detect the transportation of unauthorized nuclear materials.
Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory managed by Princeton University.
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