Better than donuts? Here are a baker’s dozen of research stories from 2021 at PPPL that you don’t want to miss

Written by
John Greenwald
Jan. 11, 2022

The year 2021 opened a new era in scientific exploration for the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL). The Laboratory fully expanded from fusion energy research into the science of cost-effective and plasma-enhanced fabrication of materials such as quantum computer chips, the next generation of diamond sensors and a broad array of industrial applications. To help with this process, PPPL is advancing its capabilities into the next generation of supercomputing and has launched a department of high-performance computational science. The following baker’s dozen assortment of stories, in no particular order, exemplifies PPPL’s findings over the past year, ranging from improved ways to harness fusion energy on Earth to new methods for bringing space plasma into the Lab, and using computational analysis and microelectronic exploration to make new discoveries. You can find these, and other stories, at www.pppl.gov.

Cracking the puzzle of crazy-quilt electrons. PPPL develops the first computational method to enable control of fast-moving particles in the fuel for fusion energy.

Heat greater than the sun is truly what matters. New findings reveal surprising pathways for the fiery subatomic particles in fusion reactions.

Bringing supernova explosions into the Lab. Recent breakthroughs model the forerunner of cosmic processes.

Provide it and they will come. Path-setting findings develop new route to widespread plasma applications.

Not all diamonds are forever. Microelectronics brings PPPL into the bizarre world of quantum physics.

Bees show scientists how to do it. Cross pollination opens the door to improved fusion facilities.

Revealed: The 10 faces of plasma. Discovery uncovers a surprising breakthrough in plasma physics.

Artificial Intelligence boosts control of fusion plasma. AI produces fast and accurate predictions for optimizing fusion reactions.

Streaming fusion findings from South Korea to Princeton. New system promises to swiftly deliver experimental breakthroughs to laboratories around the world.

Taming rambunctious fusion plasmas. Physicists find a way to pacify the turbulence that riles fusion reactions.

Next stop: Mars. New concept captures cosmic process to propel fusion rockets.

Novel machine-learning process questions the very nature of science. Could the universe be a gigantic computer simulation?

Probing the core of exploded stars. Findings uncover the basis behind baffling events.

PPPL, on Princeton University's Forrestal Campus in Plainsboro, N.J., is devoted to creating new knowledge about the physics of plasmas — ultra-hot, charged gases — and to developing practical solutions for the creation of fusion energy. The Laboratory is managed by the University for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science, which is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit energy.gov/science.