Computational Plasma Physics
As the capabilities of high-performance computers advance, the types of problems addressable via computation changes. A single simulation is able to simulate a longer period of time and study phenomena at more space scales. To realize this speedup, code must be able to run efficiently using many processors simultaneously. RF codes, micro-turbulence codes, extended-MHD codes, and transport codes are used to address different phenomena in magnetic confinement. Computational plasma physics theses from program graduates have included work that:
- Solves a new set of (approximate) equations that describe some physical phenomena of interest
- Solves an existing set of equations with an improved algorithm and faster computer to study an increased range of time and space scales
- Builds on an existing code and uses it to perform new physics studies and validation with experiment
Faculty: G. Hammett, A. Reiman, H. Qin
Experimental Plasma Physics
Graduate students in the program can work with faculty members and other PPPL scientists on a large number of experiments at PPPL and on the Princeton University campus. Experiments at the lab include, but are not limited to:
- Lithium Tokamak Experiment - a device dedicated to the study of liquid lithium as a plasma-facing component.
- Princeton FRC - a compact device that utilizes odd-parity radio-frequency rotating magnetic fields to heat electrons and drive azimuthal current in a cylindrical plasma column.
- Magnetic Reconnection Experiment - a device designed to investigate the fundamental physics of magnetic field line reconnection, an important process in magnetized plasmas in space and in the laboratory.
- Surface Science Lab - a lab at PPPL under Chemical and Biological Engineering Professor Bruce Koel dedicated to applying surface chemistry to solve relevant problems in fusion.
- Magnetorotational Instability Experiment - a small laboratory experiment to investigate the physics of the magnetorotational instability in liquid gallium.
- Liquid Metal Experiment - a small-scale laboratory experiment using liquid gallium alloy designed to study free-surface MHD stability and wave propagation
- Paul Trap Simulator Experiment - an experiment that uses alternating gradient field configurations to study the propagation of intense beams in a compact laboratory setting.
- Hall Thruster Experiment - an experiment that studies the physics involved in the operation of Hall thrusters and explores new configurations of crossed field plasma devices.
- National Spherical Torus Experiment Upgrade - a spherical tokamak with the goal of establishing the potential of the ST configuration as a means of achieving practical fusion energy and to contribute to the scientific understanding of magnetic confinement.
Faculty: S. Cohen, R. Majeski, H. Ji, R. Goldston
Theoretical Plasma Physics
Areas of theoretical plasma physics research at PPPL include magnetic fusion energy (turbulence and transport, MHD, kinetic theory, RF physics), inertial fusion energy, high-intensity beam physics, high energy density physics, and space and astrophysical plasma physics. Goals of theoretical plasma physics include developing a theoretical understanding of experiments, developing new theoretical tools and algorithms for better understanding, and designing new, better devices for plasma heating, plasma confinement, and more.
Faculty: A. Bhattacharjee, J. Krommes, G. Hammett, A. Reiman, W. Tang, R. White, N. Fisch, I. Dodin, H. Qin