PPPL supports graduate education primarily through the Program in Plasma Physics in the Department of Astrophysical Sciences of Princeton University. Students are admitted directly to the Program and are granted degrees through the Department of Astrophysical Sciences. In addition, through the interdepartmental Program in Plasma Science and Technology, PPPL supports students in affiliated engineering and science departments, who pursue research in plasma physics, while satisfying requirements and receiving degrees in their home departments.
294 PPPL students have graduated since 1959; the Program in Plasma Physics has provided many of today's leaders in the field of plasma physics.
Students in the program engage in active research, attend conferences, and publish their findings in scientific journals. Graduates of the program find employment in research in industry, in national laboratories, and in academia.
The faculty responsible for the teaching program hold positions within the Department of Astrophysical Sciences. Recognizable on the list of faculty are many names associated with classic textbooks or research papers in the field of plasma physics. Students pursue research with the teaching faculty, with associated faculty in other departments, or with any of the nearly one hundred scientists at PPPL.
The Program in Plasma Physics emphasizes both basic physics and applications. There are opportunities for research projects in the physics of the very hot plasmas necessary for controlled fusion, as well as for projects in solar, magnetospheric and ionospheric physics, plasma processing, plasma devices, nonneutral plasmas, lasers, materials research, and in other emerging areas of plasma physics. With the field of fusion energy entering an exciting phase of burning plasma and technological implementation, increasing attention is paid to the practical engineering issues that will allow fusion reactors to become economically competitive.
First-year students assist in experimental research areas including diagnostics development, materials fabrication process plasmas, and X-ray laser development and applications. During their second year, the students assist in theoretical research. Subsequently, they choose experimental or theoretical studies or a combination for their Ph.D. research. Many theoretical projects involve intensive computation. Students in the program have access, via the Energy Sciences Network, to Cray supercomputers located at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, as well as to other high-performance, including massively parallel, computers. Local computation is carried out on workstations and on personal computers. Of great pride to PPPL is an outstanding library specializing in the literature of plasma physics.
Admission to the program is highly competitive. Successful applicants generally present strong undergraduate training, with concentrations in mathematics, physics, or engineering, and high scores on the Graduate Record Exam (GRE), both on the GRE General Test and the GRE Subject Test in physics. Students accepted to the program are normally offered research assistantships, which include tuition expenses and a generous stipend. Prospective students are encouraged, however, to apply for any outside fellowships for which they may qualify.
Admission to the interdepartmental Program in Plasma Science and Technology occurs after a student has already been admitted by an affiliated department at Princeton University. Graduate students in these departments pursuing research in areas involving plasma science and technology can be supported in their research through this program. Such areas include plasma chemical synthesis, plasma processing for semiconductor fabrication, materials research, and other interdisciplinary activities. For more information, visit the web sites below.