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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.

PPPL honors Grierson and Greenough for distinguished research and engineering achievements

A breakthrough in the development of fusion diagnostics and the creative use of radio frequency waves to heat the plasma that fuels fusion reactions earned the 2017 outstanding research and engineering awards from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL). Physicist Brian Grierson and engineer Nevell Greenough received the honors from PPPL Interim Director Richard Hawryluk at a ceremony November 7 for their exceptional achievements.

Reaching new heights: Physicists improve the vertical stability of superconducting Korean fusion device

A major challenge facing the development of fusion energy is maintaining the ultra-hot plasma that fuels fusion reactions in a steady state, or sustainable, form using superconducting magnetic coils to avoid the tremendous power requirement of copper coils. While superconductors can allow a fusion reactor to operate indefinitely, controlling the plasma with superconductors presents a challenge because engineering constraints limit how quickly such magnetic coils can adjust when compared to copper coils that do not have the same constraints.

The blob that ate the tokamak: Physicists gain understanding of how bubbles at the edge of plasmas can drain heat and reduce fusion reaction efficiency

To fuse hydrogen atoms into helium, doughnut-shaped devices called tokamaks must maintain the heat of the ultrahot plasma they control. But like boiling water, plasma has blobs, or bubbles, that percolate within the plasma edge, reducing the performance of the plasma by taking away heat that sustains the fusion reactions.

The blob that ate the tokamak: Physicists gain understanding of how bubbles at the edge of plasmas can drain heat and reduce fusion reaction efficiency

To fuse hydrogen atoms into helium, doughnut-shaped devices called tokamaks must maintain the heat of the ultrahot plasma they control. But like boiling water, plasma has blobs, or bubbles, that percolate within the plasma edge, reducing the performance of the plasma by taking away heat that sustains the fusion reactions.

Innovative design using loops of liquid metal can improve future fusion power plants, scientists say

Researchers led by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) have proposed an innovative design to improve the ability of future fusion power plants to generate safe, clean and abundant energy in a steady state, or constant, manner. The design uses loops of liquid lithium to clean and recycle the tritium, the radioactive hydrogen isotope that fuels fusion reactions, and to protect the divertor plates from intense exhaust heat from the tokamak that contains the reactions.

PPPL takes detailed look at 2-D structure of turbulence in tokamaks

A key hurdle for fusion researchers is understanding turbulence, the ripples and eddies that can cause the superhot plasma that fuels fusion reactions to leak heat and particles and keep fusion from taking place. Comprehending and reducing turbulence will facilitate the development of fusion as a safe, clean and abundant source of energy for generating electricity from power plants around the world.

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