Program in Plasma Physics
Director of Graduate Studies
Lecturer with Rank of Professor
Plasmas, the fourth state of matter, are collections of freely moving charged particles (mainly electrons and ions) in which collective phenomena, such as waves, dominate the behavior of the system. Plasmas are essential to many high-technology applications. One example is fusion energy, for which the fuel is a high-temperature plasma. Low-temperature plasmas are used for a growing number of materials fabrication processes, including the formation of complex microscopic and nanoscopic patterns for microelectronic and micro-optical components, and the deposition of tribological, magnetic, optical, conducting, insulating, polymeric, and catalytic thin-films. Plasmas are also important for illumination, display technology, microwave generation, destruction of toxic wastes, lasers, spacecraft propulsion, astrophysics, and advanced-design accelerators for fundamental particle research.
Applications of plasma science and technology meld several traditional scientific and engineering specialties. The purpose of this program is to provide strong interdisciplinary support and training for graduate students working in these areas. The scope of interest includes fundamental studies of the plasmas, their interaction with surfaces and surroundings, and the technologies associated with their applications.
Academics and Research
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.
Graduate students entering the Plasma Physics Program at Princeton spend the first two years in classroom study, acquiring a foundation in the many disciplines that make up plasma physics: classical and quantum mechanics, electricity and magnetism, fluid dynamics, hydrodynamics, atomic physics, applied mathematics, statistical mechanics, and kinetic theory. Courses offered in the Program are taught by the members of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory's research staff who also comprise the plasma physics faculty. The curriculum is supplemented by courses offered in other departments of the University and by a student-run seminar series in which PPPL physicists share their expertise and graduate students present their research.
In addition to formal class work, first- and second-year graduate students work directly with the research staff, have full access to Laboratory and computer facilities, and learn firsthand the job of a research physicist. First-year students typically assist in experimental research areas, and second-year students usually undertake a theoretical research project. There are two exams that must be passed as a graduate student in the Program, the Physics Department Preliminary Exam, usually in the first year, and the Program's General Examination, usually in the second year. After passing the General Exam, students concentrate on the research and writing of a doctoral thesis.
Nathaniel J. Fisch, Hong Qin
AST 552 General Plasma Physics II
William M. Tang, Hantao Ji
AST 553 Plasma Waves and Instabilities
Cynthia K. Phillips, Jonathan E. Menard
AST 554 Irreversible Processes in Plasmas
Gregory W. Hammett
AST 555 Fusion Plasmas & Plasma Diagnostics
Philip C. Efthimion, Richard P. Majeski, Michael C. Zarnstorff
AST 556 Advanced Plasma Dynamics
Roscoe B. White
AST 557/APC 503 Analytical Techniques in Differential Equations
Roscoe B. White
AST 558 Seminar in Plasma Physics
Nathaniel J. Fisch, Allan H. Reiman
AST 559/APC 539 Nonlinear Processes in Fluids and Plasmas
John A. Krommes
AST 560 Computational Methods in Plasma Physics
Stephen C. Jardin
AST 561 Special Topics in Plasma Physics
AST 562 Laboratory in Plasma Physics
Samuel A. Cohen
AST 564/MAE 522 Applications of Quantum Mechanics to Spectroscopy and Lasers
AST 565 Physics of Nonneutral Plasmas
Ronald C. Davidson, Hong Qin
AST 566/MAE 528 Physics of Plasma Propulsion
Edgar Y. Choueiri