Applied Materials and Sustainability Sciences (AMSS)







The U.S. Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory is now using its expertise in plasma to serve as an economic driver of innovation — using novel plasma technologies to produce computer chips, advance quantum computing techniques and contribute to a net-zero world.

This video features Emily Carter, Gerhard R. Andlinger Professor in Energy and the Environment at Princeton University and associate laboratory director of applied materials and sustainability sciences and senior strategic advisor for sustainability science at PPPL; Nirbhav Chopra, a graduate student in astrophysical sciences; and John Mark P. Martirez, staff research scientist and deputy advisor for sustainability science. Special thanks to Susan Reslewic Keatley '99 for helping contribute to the questions asked during this interview.

Our Partners


We're partnering with Lam to simulate a key step in atomic-scale chip fabrication, an increasingly critical process that aims to remove single atomic layers from silicon surfaces, one at a time.


Our partnership with Samsung has focused on the etching of computer logic and memory patterns on microscopically thin layers of chips — key applications of plasma in chip fabrication.


For Applied Materials, we're developing new plasma diagnostics and modeling tools for key processing steps such as atomic-scale etching in microchip manufacturing.


Quantum Diamond

Photoluminescence with above-bandgap excitation in layered diamond

Bringing the World of
Quantum Physics into Light

With Princeton University, we're currently developing a next-generation diamond sensor with capabilities that range from imaging single molecules to guiding aircraft by detecting slight anomalies in the Earth’s magnetic field. This work is supported by a highly competitive three-year, $5.2-million award from the Department of Energy.

Robotic manufacturing arm using electrical energy


In alignment with many of the Department of Energy’s Earthshot initiatives, we're committed to advancing low-carbon technologies for a sustainable and competitive U.S. manufacturing industry. 

Our researchers are investigating ways to replace fossil fuels with electricity, including plasmas, in industrial processes. Our focuses include:

  • Use of plasma to enhance conversion of natural gas (methane) to hydrogen
  • Use of plasma or electric heating to produce ammonia from air and hydrogen
  • Use of electricity to produce useful chemicals and fuel from carbon dioxide

Electricity could more sustainably produce chemicals like hydrogen, ethylene, and ammonia; steel and cement; and even capture and chemically transform carbon dioxide and recycle plastics.

Current Projects

Energy Earthshot Research Center: Hydrogen Shot™

$5 million, Lead

Energy Earthshot Research Center: Industrial Heat Shot™

$1 million, partner to Oak Ridge National Laboratory


Sun rays bouncing off of Earth's atmospheric shield

Aerosol Science for the Climate

Intentionally reflecting the sun's energy back to space could help cool the planet temporarily while we transition off of fossil fuels. Our researchers aim to study how clouds, light, and aerosols — small particles in the air — interact in controlled laboratory conditions, so that we can safely determine the science underpinning such cooling strategies.  

Current Projects

Aerosol Dynamics

Gain a better understanding of aerosol-light-cloud dynamics

Aerosol Materials

Research and discovery around new, environmentally benign, scalable aerosol materials that may feature desirable properties for climate intervention science. This includes stratospheric aerosol injection and cirrus cloud thinning

Meet the Team


Quantum Materials and Devices (QMD)

Aerosol Science for the Climate