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Surface science

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The study of the chemical and physical processes that occur in the interface between two phases of matter, such as solid to liquid or liquid to gas.

Ten not-to-be-missed PPPL stories from 2019 — plus a triple bonus!

Arms control robots, a new national facility, and accelerating the drive to bring the fusion energy that powers the sun and stars to Earth. These far-reaching achievements at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) made 2019 another remarkable year. Research at the only national laboratory devoted to fusion and plasma physics — the state of matter that makes up 99 percent of the visible universe — broke new ground in varied fields as vast as astrophysics and as tiny as nanotechnology.

Powder, not gas: A safer, more effective way to create a star on Earth

A major issue with operating ring-shaped fusion facilities known as tokamaks is keeping the plasma that fuels fusion reactions free of impurities that could reduce the efficiency of the reactions. Now, scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) have found that sprinkling a type of powder into the plasma could aid in harnessing the ultra-hot gas within a tokamak facility to produce heat to create electricity without producing greenhouse gases or long-term radioactive waste.

Powder, not gas: A safer, more effective way to create a star on Earth

A major issue with operating ring-shaped fusion facilities known as tokamaks is keeping the plasma that fuels fusion reactions free of impurities that could reduce the efficiency of the reactions. Now, scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) have found that sprinkling a type of powder into the plasma could aid in harnessing the ultra-hot gas within a tokamak facility to produce heat to create electricity without producing greenhouse gases or long-term radioactive waste.

Scientists improve ability to measure electrical properties of plasma

Any solid surface immersed within a plasma, including those in satellite engines and fusion reactors, is surrounded by a layer of electrical charge that determines the interaction between the surface and the plasma. Understanding the nature of this contact, which can affect the performance of the devices, often hinges on understanding how electrical charge is distributed around the surface. Now, recent research by scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) indicates a way to more accurately measure these electrical properties.

Lithium — it’s not just for batteries: The powdered metal can reduce instabilities in fusion plasmas, scientists find

You may be most familiar with the element lithium as an integral component of your smart phone’s battery, but the element also plays a role in the development of clean fusion energy. When used on tungsten surfaces in fusion devices, lithium can reduce periodic instabilities in plasma that can damage the reactor walls, scientists have found. 

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