Press Releases Archive
Physicists Dr. Nate Ferraro and Dr. Sam Lazerson of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) have each won 2018 Early Career Research Program awards sponsored by the DOE Office of Science. The two five-year awards will fund PPPL research that could lead to development of the best designs for doughnut-shaped tokamaks and twisty stellarators — the main magnetic-bottles employed worldwide in the effort to produce virtually inexhaustible fusion power on Earth using the reactions that drive the sun and stars.
Magnetic islands, bubble-like structures that form in fusion plasmas, can grow and disrupt the plasmas and damage the doughnut-shaped tokamak facilities that house fusion reactions. Recent research at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) has used large-scale computer simulations to produce a new model that could be key to understanding how the islands interact with the surrounding plasma as they grow and lead to disruptions.
PRINCETON, New Jersey (June 6, 2018) – The 23rd International Conference on Plasma Surface Interactions in Controlled Fusion Devices – the preeminent biennial research conference in this field – begins on June 17 and continues for six days.
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.
A team of scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) has won a DOE Office of Science award to develop new X-ray diagnostics for WEST — the Tungsten (W) Environment in Steady-state Tokamak — in Cadarache, France. The three-year, $1-million award will support construction of two new devices at PPPL, plus collaboration with French scientists and deployment of a post-doctoral researcher to test the installed devices at CAE Laboratories, the home of the WEST facility.
Scientists seeking to bring fusion — the power that drives the sun and stars — down to Earth must first make the state of matter called plasma superhot enough to sustain fusion reactions. That calls for heating the plasma to many times the temperature of the core of the sun. In ITER, the international fusion facility being built in France to demonstrate the feasibility of fusion power, the device will heat both the free electrons and the atomic nuclei — or ions — that make up the plasma.
Physicist William Tang has won a highly competitive $100,000 Global Impact Award from NVIDIA Corp., the leading producer of graphics processing units (GPUs) for carrying out artificial intelligence (AI) computing. This award was one of two presented at the NVIDIA national GPU technology conference held March 26-29 in San Jose, California.
A team of U.S. and German scientists has used a system of large magnetic “trim” coils designed and delivered by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) to achieve high performance in the latest round of experiments on the Wendelstein 7-X (W7-X) stellarator. The German machine, the world’s largest and most advanced stellarator, is being used to explore the scientific basis for fusion energy and test the suitability of the stellarator design for future fusion power plants.
Halo currents — electrical currents that flow from the hot, charged plasma that fuels fusion reactions and strike the walls of fusion facilities — could damage the walls of fusion devices like ITER, the international experiment under construction in France to demonstrate the feasibility of fusion power.
Birds do it and so do doughnut-shaped fusion facilities called “tokamaks.” But tokamak chirping— a rapidly changing frequency wave that can be far above what the human ear can detect — is hardly welcome to researchers who seek to bring the fusion that powers the sun and stars to Earth. Such chirping signals a loss of heat that can slow fusion reactions, a loss that has long puzzled scientists.
A millisecond burst of light on a computer monitor signaled production of the first plasma in a powerful new device for advancing research into magnetic reconnection — a critical but little understood process that occurs throughout the universe. The first plasma, a milestone event signaling the beginning of research capabilities, was captured on camera on Sunday, March 4, at 8:13 p.m. at Jadwin Hall at Princeton University, and marked completion of the four-year construction of the device, the Facility for Laboratory Reconnection Experiment (FLARE).
A key challenge in fusion research is maintaining the stability of the hot, charged plasma that fuels fusion reactions inside doughnut-shaped facilities called “tokamaks.” Physicists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), have recently found that drifting particles in the plasma, which consists of free electrons and atomic nuclei, can forestall instabilities that reduce the pressure crucial to high-performance fusion reactions inside these facilities.
Nanoparticles, superstrong and flexible structures such as carbon nanotubes that are measured in billionths of a meter — a diameter thousands of times thinner than a human hair — are used in everything from microchips to sporting goods to pharmaceutical products. But large-scale production of high-quality particles faces challenges ranging from improving the selectivity of the synthesis that creates them and the quality of the synthesized material to the development of economical and reliable synthesis processes.
Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) have discovered key conditions that give rise to fast magnetic reconnection, the process that triggers solar flares, auroras, and geomagnetic storms that can disrupt signal transmissions and other electrical activities, including cell phone service. The process occurs when the magnetic field lines in plasma, the hot, charged state of matter composed of free electrons and atomic nuclei, break apart and violently reconnect, releasing vast amounts of energy.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Science, the largest U.S. supporter of basic research in the physical sciences, celebrated the 40th anniversary of its founding in 2017. To mark the 40th anniversary of Office of Science support for the country’s national laboratories and basic research at universities and private industry, the DOE has compiled 40 milestone papers that represent what the Department calls “a cream-of-the crop selection that has changed the face of science.”
Clayton Myers, a 2015 graduate of the Program in Plasma Physics in the Princeton Department of Astrophysical Sciences who did his research at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), has won the 2018 Dissertation Prize awarded by the Laboratory Astrophysics Division (LAD) of the American Astronomical Society (AAS). Myers, now a physicist at Sandia National Laboratory, received the award for his work on the Magnetic Reconnection Experiment (MRX) at PPPL.
A key goal for ITER, the international fusion device under construction in France, will be to produce 10 times more power than goes into it to heat the hot, charged plasma that sustains fusion reactions. Among the steps needed to reach that goal will be controlling instabilities called “neoclassical tearing modes” that can cause magnetic islands to grow in the plasma and shut down those reactions.
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.
Elena Belova, a principal research physicist in the Theory Department at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), has been named to the editorial board of the Physics of Plasmas, a monthly peer-reviewed scientific journal published by the American Institute of Physics. Duties of board members, selected for their high degree of technical expertise, range from suggesting topics for special sections to adjudicating impasses between authors and referees that arise over manuscripts.
David Johnson and Charles Skinner, principal research physicists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), have been appointed to three-year terms as ITER Scientist Fellows. They will join a network of internationally recognized researchers who will consult with ITER, the international fusion experiment under construction in France, on plans and components for the project, which is designed to demonstrate the practicality of fusion energy.
Throughout 2017 researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) have produced new insights into the science of fusion energy that powers the sun and stars and the physics of plasma, the hot, charged state of matter that consists of electrons and atomic nuclei, or ions, and makes up 99 percent of the visible universe. The research advances the development of fusion as a safe, clean and plentiful source of power, produced in doughnut-shaped facilities called tokamaks, and explores the diverse aspects and applications of plasma.
Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory managed by Princeton University.
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