Plasma Science and Fusion Center

MIT's Plasma Science and Fusion Center (PSFC) is known internationally as a leading university research center for the study of plasma and fusion science and technology with research activities in five major areas:

The PSFC R&D programs are supported principally by the Department of Energy's Office of Fusion Energy Sciences. There are approximately 258 personnel associated with PSFC research activities. These include: 19 faculty and senior academic staff, 47 graduate students and nine undergraduates, with participating faculty and students from Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Materials Science and Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Nuclear Engineering, and Physics; 67 research scientists, engineers and technical staff, 62 visiting scientists and engineers, postdoctoral associates and research affiliates, 30 technical support personnel; and 24 administrative and support staff.

PSFC's research funding was $27.0 million in FY2002, up 4.2 percent from $25.9 million in FY2001. The increase was due mainly to a new industrial contract in the plasma technology area to accelerate the development of the "plasmatron" concept. Based in part on preliminary budget guidance from OFES, we estimate that PSFC's total funding in FY03 will increase by nearly 15 percent to $31.0 million over FY2002. The primary cause of this jump in the budget is an expected increase (dependent on Congressional appropriation) in the Alcator Project budget of about $4.5 million in FY2003 which we expect should remain at an increased funding level for the indefinite future. In addition, a growing niche at the PSFC in Inertial Confinement Fusion (ICF) research is expected to contribute nearly $1 million to the budget increase in FY2003.

The Alcator C-Mod tokamak is a major international fusion experimental facility, directed by Professor Ian Hutchinson and Dr. Earl Marmar. It continued its research in high performance, compact magnetic plasma confinement. The upgrade to permit quasi-steady state exploration of Advanced Tokamak operation with high fractions of self generated current is nearing completion, under the leadership of Professor Ronald Parker. The 4.6GHz, 3 MW RF sources and associated power supplies are now installed and the wave launcher, being fabricated by our PPPL collaborators, is due for installation in March 2003.

klystrons in the Alcator cell
12 x 250 kW klystrons in the Alcator cell.

C-Mod is recognized as one of three major US national fusion facilities. The team includes approximately 16 MIT staff scientists, 18 MIT graduate students, 18 engineers, and 25 technicians. In addition we have collaborators from around the world, bringing the total number of scientific users of the facility to about 120.

The facility operation this year has been limited, in part, by a scheduled disassembly for inspection of the magnet and upgrade of the divertor and other structures for higher current operation, increased shape flexibility and improved diagnosis of the plasma. This engineering work was successfully completed. However, the more fundamental limitation to operation has been funding. Recognizing this problem, the Office of Fusion Energy Sciences of the US Department of Energy put forward a plan for substantial increases in funding for fiscal year 03. The presidential budget proposed an increase of approximately $4 million for the facility, to enable a major increase in operations time, moving towards full utilization. Funding for this proposal has not yet been appropriated by Congress, and if it would be, we are planning 21 weeks of operation in FY2003.

Highlights of Recent Research Achievements

We have shown that the particle transport in the core of the plasma is reduced by putting the main source of heating about half way out from the center of the plasma. In C-Mod this heating is the absorption of radio frequency waves through resonance with the cyclotron motion of the ions about the magnetic field. This process is naturally quite localized at a position where the frequency is equal to the ion cyclotron frequency. By changing the magnetic field, the resonance position can be moved. We find that with off-axis heating, the particle density peaks up slowly in the center of the plasma, consistent with a reduction of diffusivity, and the consequent effects of the known trapped particle pinch. More exciting still, we have shown that by applying heating at a second frequency, chosen to heat the plasma center, we can control the peaking of the density profile, and produce a stationary peaked profile. This result shows that the density profile can be actively controlled—a long standing objective of transport research in tokamaks.

A new turbulence imaging diagnostic has revealed new features of transport near the edge of the plasma. The plasma is imaged using a fast camera with exposure times as short as a few microseconds. Short wavelength density perturbations are observed that show persistent blobs moving in time. This phenomenon, referred to generally as "intermittency" is characteristic of the edge turbulence, and provides important evidence for its underlying causes. In related research, the plasma turbulent transport outside the confined regions has been seen to be dominated by the intermittent transport phenomenon, and to be much more important than previously thought. Our experiments have shown that the blobs are capable of transporting much more plasma across to the solid surfaces of the main chamber than had been realized. This observation is important because it will affect the design of future experiments and their plasma-facing components.

Short wavelength waves mode converted at critical resonance layers from the externally launched RF heating waves (themselves a form of compressional Alfven wave) have been measured by phase contrast imaging (PCI) techniques. Full wave modeling, using state of the art parallel computer programs, has shown that in toroidal geometry these wave phenomena are more complicated than had been thought. In particular, coupling to both electrostatic ion Bernstein waves, as well as to electromagnetic ion cyclotron waves may be possible. The observation s with PCI are consistent with the latter type of wave, in agreement with the code modeling results and earlier theoretical predictions based on slab geometry with sheared magnetic fields. This work has important implications for the future use of short wavelength mode converted waves for plasma transport control.

A new neutral beam injector for diagnostics was installed. This beam was designed and fabricated by the Budker Institute in Siberia, and is part of a collaboration with the University of Padua.

The process leading to renewal of the Alcator five year research grant (due at the end of 2003) began with a US Tokamak workshop, held in May 2002, where the research plans were presented and discussed. The formal proposal will be submitted to DoE in December 2002.

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Physics Research Division

The Physics Research Division, headed by Professor Miklos Porkolab, seeks to improve our theoretical and experimental understanding of plasma physics and fusion science. This division develops basic plasma physics experiments, new confinement concepts, novel inertial fusion diagnostics, and space plasma physics experiments, and is the home for a strong basic and applied plasma theory and computations program.

Fusion Theory and Computations

The theory effort, led by Dr. Peter Catto, supports Alcator C-Mod and other tokamak experiments world wide, the Levitated Dipole Experiment (LDX) nearing completion at the PSFC, and the PSFC's Versatile Toroidal Facility (VTF), where basic plasma science experiments are conducted. New participants in the theory program include Professor Kim Molvig of Nuclear Engineering who joined the PSFC theory program, and hires Doctors Darin Ernst and John Wright in the turbulence and computational science area. Many important contributions have been made by the group during the past year and a few of these are highlighted below.

Tokamak Confinement and Transport

Important advances have been made in understanding the physics of internal transport barriers (ITB) that have been triggered in Alcator C-Mod by the application of off-axis ICRF heating power. ITBs correspond to formation of an "internal density barrier" despite the absence of any source of central fueling. By means of state of the art stability and transport code analysis it has been demonstrated that the density peaking observed during ITB mode formation is consistent with a reduction in particle diffusivity within the barrier region, combined with an inward pinch velocity.

In the tokamak edge studies we have focused on the impact of penetration of neutral atoms and molecules into the steep plasma density gradient region just inside the separatrix in an attempt to understand their influence on sheared flow observed at the edge in reduced transport regimes. The effect of the neutrals on the toroidal ion flow and radial electric field just inside the separatrix was evaluated by extending our earlier treatments to arbitrary mean free path neutrals and by allowing poloidal variation of the neutral density. We have found that the localization of the neutrals to a penetration depth results in a strongly sheared toroidal ion velocity and radial electric field which may locally reduce turbulent transport.

Magnetohydrodynamics, Stability, and Integrated Advanced Tokamak Physics

A key element of the advanced tokamak program on Alcator C-Mod will be non-inductive current driven lower hybrid (LH) waves. In support of these current profile control experiments we have initiated an integrated scenario modeling effort aimed at the development of combined models for LH current drive, predictive transport analysis, ion cyclotron radio frequency (ICRF) heating, and ideal magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) stability. In addition, we have investigated resistive wall mode (RWM) stability with various poloidally varying flow configurations and found that stability threshold is reduced to a lower critical flow than axial flow cases. RWMs occur in reversed field pinches as well as tokamaks, are sensitive to plasma rotation, would be ideal MHD unstable in the absence of a conducting wall, are stabilized if the wall is perfectly conducting, and grow on the resistive wall time if the wall has finite resistivity. In another theoretical work, we have gained further insight into the so called quasi-coherent mode observed in the favorable enhanced D-alpha operating regime of Alcator C-Mod.

Heating, Current Drive, and Nonlinear Dynamics

Principal research scientist Dr. Paul Bonoli received new funding through the Office of Fusion Energy Science's Scientific Discovery Through Advanced Computing Initiative ("Sci-Dac"). Dr. Bonoli and coworkers are continuing to implement state of the art simulation models for current drive, heating, and mode conversion in the ion cyclotron and lower hybrid (LH) range of frequencies. These codes are used extensively by the Alcator C-Mod group to analyze ICRF heating and mode conversion experiments as well as assess planned LH current profile control experiments. Moreover, their full wave electromagnetic field solver has been successfully used to resolve, for the first time, mode converted ion Bernstein waves and electromagnetic ion cyclotron waves in toroidal geometry.

RF Wave Propagation in Spherical Tokamaks

The nature of tight aspect or "spherical" tokamaks does not allow for the conventional electron cyclotron waves —ordinary O and extraordinary X modes—to effectively heat and/or drive currents. Professor Abe Bers and Dr. Abhay Ram have shown that these limitations can be overcome by coupling power to electron Bernstein waves (EBWs) since they damp very effectively on electrons in the vicinity of the Doppler shifted electron cyclotron resonance (or its harmonics). This strong localized absorption also implies that thermal emission of EBWs can also occur. They have been studying details of the mode conversion and emission processes to determine the optimum operating regimes. Since EBWs are not vacuum modes, the possible means for coupling power to EBWs are via mode conversion of an externally launched O and X modes. Similarly, emitted EBWs propagate out to the edge of the plasma and mode convert to experimentally observable X and O modes near the upper hybrid resonance.

LDX Stability, Heating and Confinement

The confinement of high pressure plasma by the dipole magnetic field produced by a levitated superconducting ring offers a new and unorthodox approach to steady state magnetic confinement. The recent dipole research in support of LDX led by Dr. Jay Kesner has focused on equilibrium and stability issues to gain an understanding of the allowed operating regimes. The MHD studies found that dipole equilibria are remarkably stable at arbitrary plasma pressure provided the pressure gradient is sufficiently weak so that it remains below the ideal MHD interchange limit. When the pressure profile exceeds the interchange mode stability limit we expect the formation of large scale convective cells leading to non-local transport. When kinetic treatments are employed to retain diamagnetic and magnetic drift effects in dipoles, the closed field line entropy modes are excited, which, unlike MHD modes, do not keep the entropy constant. Although they restrict the stable operating regime for LDX, a large operating space remains stable and persists even in the semi-collisional and collisionless limits. When parallel and perpendicular resistivity are turned on, weak resistive modes may be unstable. The impact of these modes remains to be investigated.

Experimental research

The Levitated Dipole Experiment
Schematic cross section of the levitated dipole experiment
Schematic cross section of the levitated dipole experiment.

The levitated dipole experiment represents a new and innovative approach to magnetic fusion, which will utilize a levitated superconducting coil to confine plasma in a dipole magnetic field. LDX is a joint collaborative project with Columbia University that is located in NW21 at MIT. The principal investigators of this project are Dr. Jay Kesner of MIT and Professor Michael Mauel of Columbia University. The LDX facility has been designed by the engineering division of the Plasma Science Fusion Center (PSFC) under the leadership of Dr. Joseph Minervini.

The concept was inspired by the observations that high-pressure plasmas can be confined by planetary dipole magnetic fields, such as the magnetosphere which surrounds Jupiter. Compared with the traditional fusion approaches the levitated dipole may permit the confinement of plasmas with higher beta values (the plasma to magnetic field pressure ratio) and with reduced cross-field transport. The project has been funded as a six-year grant at an approximate annual budget of $1.4 million (shared between MIT and Columbia University). The construction of the project will be completed during the initial five-year period. When completed LDX will be the only superconducting magnetic confinement experiment in the American fusion research program. The design of the facility was largely completed during FY1998 and the construction and assembly is nearly complete. The vacuum chamber is in place in the Tara cell of NW21. (see Fig. 2). The high performance Nb3Sn floating coil has been successfully tested and the cryostat is nearly completed. The (high temperature superconductor) levitation coil is expected to be completed by October 2002 and the NbTi charging coil is expected to be arriving at MIT by November 2002. The first plasma results are expected early in CY2003.

Magnetic Reconnection Experiments on the Versatile Toroidal Facility (VTF)

Fast changes of magnetic field topology are observed in association with reconnection phenomena both in space and laboratory plasmas, e.g. in solar flares, magnetic substorms at the geo-magnetic tail, and in the case of internal disruptions in fusion tokamak devices. The basic plasma experiment VTF, founded by Professor A. Fasoli and now led by Dr. J. Egedal, has in the past year provided significant new insight into the fundamental mechanisms which allow magnetic field lines to break and reconnect at rates orders of magnitudes higher than the classical rate. During the driven reconnection experiments the collisionless plasma is characterized in terms of space and time evolution of magnetic fields, currents, density and electric potential. The unprecedented accuracy and time resolution of these measurements has formed the basis for the first direct test of two fluid plasma theories against experimental data. The data suggests that stress terms in the pressure tensor are important for the momentum balance of the. Stimulated by these experimental results theoretical effort is now underway to determine if the stress terms can account of the high rates of reconnection observed. Finally, a new proposal was submitted to DOE-OFES by Professor Porkolab and Dr. Jan Egedal to obtain additional funding for these experiments.

MIT-PSFC/JET Collaboration on Alfvén Wave Instabilities

This program (led by Professor Fasoli) conducts experiments at the Joint European Torus (JET), the world's largest tokamak in England. In these experiments instabilities driven by high energy particles, such as neutral beam ions, RF driven energetic ions and ultimately, alpha particles, are studied. These studies lead to an improved understanding of plasma stability and transport that will be important in a burning plasma experiment where the fusion process generates a substantial alpha particle component

Inertial Confinement Fusion Experiments

MIT's effort in inertial confinement fusion, led by Dr. Richard Petrasso, is a collaboration with the University of Rochester and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. This program has continued to produce exciting results on experiments conducted at the OMEGA laser facility at the Laboratory for Laser Energetics at the University of Rochester. MIT has been responsible for designing and implementing two very large charged-particle spectrometers, and nine smaller ones. Such spectrometers are used to detect charged fusion products that are generated at the core of imploding ICF capsules. From the number of such reactants (i.e. the yield), the effectiveness of the fusion process can be determined, and from the energy loss of the reactants as they pass through the capsule, a measure of the capsule compression can be determined. Both these quantities, namely yield and capsule compression, are fundamental parameters needed to characterize the quality of the implosions. In addition, since the spectrometers view the implosion from many different angles, the implosion symmetry can be studied. In recent work nine different spectrometers viewed imploding capsules and showed that significant non-spherical asymmetries exist. MIT data and analysis have contributed important insights into the relationship between experimental conditions and implosion performance and in doing so has advanced the state of ICF research. These spectrometers are prototypes for those being designed by MIT and collaborators for the National Ignition Facility (NIF) at Lawrence Livermore. For example, at the core of NIF implosions, we expect to achieve plasma densities that are six times larger than the density at the center of the sun, or 52 times more dense than gold. Finally, we note that the MIT/PSFC has the lead role in organizing and coordinating the Basic Science Users Group for the National Ignition Facility.

Novel Diagnostics for Magnetic Fusion Research

Phase Contrast Imaging Diagnostic of Turbulence on DIII-D

Professor Porkolab and collaborators have proposed new upgrades to the DIII-D collaboration in Phase Contrast Imaging of short wavelength modes, including an upgrade of the C-Mod PCI experiment. This proposal was funded at more than twice the prvious funding level and the upgrading of the systems is underway.

Collective Thomson Scattering off Ions in Textor and Asdex-U

This collaboration, spearheaded by Dr. Woskov of the PSFC, has also been approved for an upgrade in a recent competitative review, and upgrading the experimental apparatus is underway in Europe and the PSFC.

Ionospheric Plasma Research

PSFC's Ionospheric Plasma Research Group (Visiting Professor Min-Chang Lee and his students) has been conducting ionospheric plasma RF heating experiments in Alaska, using DoD's HF Active Aurora Research Program (HAARP) facility. These experiments are aimed at investigating ionospheric plasma turbulence and developing ELF/VLF communication schemes for high efficiency and good quality signals. Progress has been made to determine the spatial distribution of HF-modulated electrojet currents and sources of ELF/VLF emissions. PSFC's Ionospheric Radar Integrated System (IRIS), after being tested successfully, has been deployed for experiments at Millstone Hill, Massachusetts for remote sensing of space plasma turbulence. The new optical instrument, All Sky Imaging System (ASIS), funded recently by DoD equipment grant, will be used in experiments to study the spatial structures of plasma turbulence. ASIS together with IRIS will provide powerful diagnoses of RF heated plasmas in space and laboratory experiments.

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Waves and Beams Division

The Waves and Beams Division, headed by Dr. Richard Temkin, conducts research on novel sources of electromagnetic radiation and on the generation and acceleration of particle beams. Substantial graduate student involvement is emphasized in all research programs within the division.

Gyrotrons are under development for electron cyclotron heating (ECH) of present day and future plasmas, for high frequency radar and for spectroscopy. These applications require gyrotron tubes operating at frequencies in the range 90-500 GHz at power levels of up to several megawatts.

In 2002, we started experiments with a new 110 GHz pulsed gyrotron and demonstrated operation at the power level of 1 MW in the design mode. The new continuous wave gyrotron will be tested at an industrial vendor, Communications and Power Industries.

Intensive research continues on 250-500 GHz gyrotrons for use in electron spin resonance and nuclear magnetic resonance studies. This research, funded by NIH, is a collaboration with Professor Robert Griffin of the Francis Bitter Magnet Lab. In 2002, we continued utilization of the 250 GHz gyrotron that demonstrated reliable operation for many hours at continuous wave power levels of up to 25 W. A new 460 GHz gyrotron is under construction and expected to operate in 2003.

In a new program, funded as part of a US Department of Defense MURI consortium for Innovative Vacuum Electronics, a novel 140 GHz gyrotron amplifier has been tested. Thirty kW peak power, which is the record power level above 100 GHz, has been demonstrated with a 30 dB linear gain and at a 2.1 GHz bandwidth. These results will be very useful to scientists at MIT's Lincoln Lab who are working on a high frequency amplifier for the Haystack antenna based radar. 

PSFC research on high gradient accelerators is focused on high frequency linear accelerators for development of future TeV electron colliders. In 2002, the High Gradient Accelerator Group continued commissioning of the Haimson Research Corp. 17 GHz electron accelerator. This is the highest power accelerator on the MIT campus and the highest frequency stand alone accelerator in the world. The diagnostic set up is under construction to measure the electron bunches from the 17 GHz accelerator.

The Intense Beam Theoretical Group, led by Dr. Chiping Chen, has contributed to our understanding of coherent radiation generation and particle acceleration. Topics covered include coherent radiation generation in crossed field devices, control of halo formation in intense electron and ion beam transport, and the design of metallic photonic band gap structures for use in coherent radiation structures. An important recent achievement is the use of a Green's function based simulation code to determine an annular beam confinement limit for bunched electron beams in high-power microwave sources.

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Plasma Technology Division

The objectives of the Plasma Technology Division, led by doctors Daniel Cohn and Paul Woskov, are to develop new fusion spinoff applications, particularly in the environmental and hydrocarbon energy efficiency area; to develop new fusion diagnostics; and to develop new fusion reactor system concepts.

A rapidly growing research area in the division is plasma assisted conversion of hydrocarbon fuels into hydrogen with Leslie Bromberg and Daniel Cohn as coprincipal investigators. Hydrogen has potential environmental advantages as a fuel or a fuel additive that can greatly reduce pollution from vehicles and stationary electricity generation systems. It can also be used to increase the efficiency of conversion of hydrocarbon fuels into mechanical power or electrical power. Special plasma technology, referred to as plasmatron reformers, can provide important advantages in facilitating the generation of hydrogen from hydrocarbon fuels.

The expanding activities in the area of plasma assisted conversion of hydrocarbon fuels are contributing to the following goals:

Microplasmatronic fuel converter (foreground) and conventional carburetor (background)
Microplasmatronic fuel converter (foreground) and conventional carburetor (background).

A number of projects related to plasma assisted hydrogen production from hydrocarbons are being pursued. One project, sponsored by Arvin Meritor, a major automobile components manufacturer, is investigating plasmatron reformer devices for vehicles which would use onboard conversion of gasoline to hydrogen rich gas for cleaner, more efficient operation. The hydrogen-rich gas would then be combusted in a slightly modified spark ignition engine. Using the hydrogen-rich gas as an additive to gasoline, large reductions in NOx, a major air pollutant, can be obtained. By facilitating high compression ratio lean burn operation, the use of hydrogen rich gas could also increase net engine system efficiency by up to 25 percent. The relatively low additional cost could result in a relatively short payback time due to fuel savings. The short payback time could potentially make possible widespread implementation on cars and light duty vehicles which could eventually lead to a gasoline savings in the United States of 20 billion gallons a year. The program involves collaboration with Professor John Heywood of the Mechanical Engineering Department and the Sloan Automotive Laboratory.

A new effort involving a substantial expansion in the collaborative program between the Plasma Science and Fusion Center and the Sloan Automotive Laboratory is being proposed to DOE. This effort would involve a broad study of new clean, high efficiency engine concepts referred to as Hydrogen Enhanced Lean Boosted Engines. Such engines could serve as a bridge to the long-term national goal of vehicles using stored hydrogen while also providing near term fuel savings as described above. The need for vehicles with significant near term fuel savings has recently been increased by legislation in California calling for reduced greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles.

Another project, supported by DOE, investigates the use of plasmatron generated hydrogen as a means to improve catalytic reduction of diesel engine exhaust pollutants. In addition, the Plasma Science and Fusion Center is investigating the use of plasma based devices for producing hydrogen for stationary fuel cells. This work is sponsored by Chevron Texaco.

The Plasma Technology Division is also researching and developing advanced diagnostic and monitoring systems for fusion energy research, environmental monitoring, and nuclear waste remediation. For fusion energy research, millimeter-wave collective Thomson scattering (CTS) diagnostics for fast ion measurements

(see also under Physics Research Division, Experiments) are being developed in an international collaboration between MIT, Risø National Laboratory, Denmark, and two German laboratories. Energetic ions (alpha particles) are byproducts of fusion burn in a D-T plasma. It is essential that these ions remain confined and give up their energy to fusion reactions. Consequently, the physics of high-energy ions produced by auxiliary heating and by fusion reactions must be understood and controlled in order to progress to a practical source of power. The CTS development will provide a needed diagnostic tool enabling this progress. Experiments will be carried out on the German TEXTOR and ASDEX tokamaks, which have unique high power gyrotron facilities for providing the high power millimeter-waves needed for this research.

In the environmental monitoring area, the Plasma Technology Division is developing millimeter-wave pyrometry, reflectometry, and viscometry for online monitoring of nuclear waste vitrification process. The objectives of this technology development effort are to contribute to the DOE environmental management needs to speed up and reduce costs of the national effort to clean up nuclear waste sites. The new online monitoring technology will make possible maximizing glass waste loading, which will reduce waste volumes and speed up the processing time. This will result in large cost savings. The work to date has received important awards and recognition. An R&D 100 Award was earned in 2001 for the viscometry development as one of the most significant new technologies in that year. Also, a presentation given at the 2001 American Ceramics Society Meeting earned a best paper award for Nuclear and Environmental Technology Division. This work is also being highlighted as an Environmental Management Science Program (EMSP) success story at the American Nuclear Society 2002 Spectrum meeting.

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Technology and Engineering Division

Central Soleniod Model Coil
Central Soleniod Model Coil (CSMC) at the Japanese Atomic Energy Research Institute in Naka, Japan.

The Technology and Engineering (T&E) Division, headed by Dr. Joseph Minervini, conducts research on conventional and superconducting magnets for fusion devices and other large scale power and energy systems. The major emphasis of the division's effort continues to be on support of the US Fusion Program where the PSFC has the leadership responsibility for the Magnets Enabling Technology program. Long term reduced funding for fusion technology has been compensated in recent years by successful pursuit of increased funding from non-Office of Fusion Energy Sciences (OFES) sources. Under the OFES magnetics program, the major test program for the Central Solenoid Model Coil (CSMC) was completed at the Japanese Atomic Energy Research Institute (JAERI) in Naka, Japan. The CSMC, and other coils were fabricated as part of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) program when the US participated during the Engineering Design Activity (see Fig. 4, showing the test facility in Japan with the US and Japanese built Central Solenoid proto-type for ITER). The PSFC had a major role in the design, construction and testing of the CSMC. This past year, the focus of the testing was on a Toroidal Field Insert Coil, designed and fabricated in Russia, and on an insert coil designed and fabricated in Japan using Nb3Al superconductor. PSFC personnel participated at the Naka site in the experimental test program in leadership positions. PSFC personnel also participated in the test of the Toroidal Field Model Coil (TFMC), fabricated in Europe and tested at the Forschungzentrum Karlsruhe (FzK) in Germany.

In August, the division will host the US-Japan Workshop at MIT on Superconducting Magnet Technology to discuss the test results, including analysis and supporting R&D associated with this recent series of major coil tests. Participants will include representatives from national laboratories and universities from Japan, Europe and Russia, as well as collaborating US laboratories and universities.The US DOE and the Administration are presently seriously considering rejoining the ITER collaboration. If this does occur, the division would expect to play a leading role in the development of magnet technology for this very large scale device, and thus a substantial increase in funding. Meanwhile, further development of the superalloy Incoloy® Alloy 908 is being continued in the Technology and Engineering Divisions Materials Science Laboratory under the direction of Professor Ronald Ballinger.

The division provided engineering support to the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory in the evaluation of Next Step Options for the US Fusion Program and in the design of the Fusion Ignition Research Experiment (FIRE). MIT continues to play a lead role in the magnet system design, cryogenic system design, and structural design for the FIRE as well as systems level studies. At the recent OFES sponsored Snowmass Summer Study, Joseph Minervini was a co-convener of the Magnet Technology Working Sub-Group for evaluation of three options for a Burning Plasma Experiment.

Other areas of research by the division include:

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Educational Outreach Programs

The Plasma Science and Fusion Center's educational outreach program is planned and organized under the direction of Mr. Paul Rivenberg, Communications and Outreach Administrator of the PSFC.  The program focuses on heightening the interest of K–12 students in scientific and technical subjects by bringing them together with scientists, engineers and graduate students in real laboratory and experimental environments. This kind of interaction often encourages young people to consider science and engineering careers. Tours of our facilities are also available for the general public. Annual visitors include Minority Introduction to Engineering, Science and Entrepreneurship Program (MITE2S), Keys to Empowering Youth (KEYS), and the National Youth Leadership Forum. Special "Outreach Days" are held twice a year, encouraging high school and middle school students from around Massachusetts to visit the PSFC for hands-on demonstrations and tours.  Key to the success of our tour programs is the involvement of PSFC graduate students who volunteer to assist. The experience helps them understand how to communicate a complicated science to those who do not have an advanced science background.

The Mr. Magnet Program, headed by Mr. Paul Thomas, is completing its tenth year of bringing lively demonstrations on magnetism into local elementary and middle schools. This year Mr. Magnet presented the program to over 30,000 students at over 82 schools and other events, reaching students from kindergarten through college freshmen. He makes a special effort to encourage girls to consider a science related career. In spring 2002 Paul Thomas traveled with his truckload of equipment to Washington, DC, at the request of the Department of Energy, to involve participants of the DOE National Science Bowl with his hands on magnetic experiences. He has recently expanded his teaching to include an interactive demonstration of plasma, encouraging participants to investigate plasma properties with audiovisual, electromagnetic, and spectroscopic techniques. He has also developed a workshop for middle schools on how to build an electromagnet. He is currently creating a new hands on plasma demonstration device similar to one he created for the MIT Museum to be stationed in the PSFC Headquarters area, allowing visitors and staff members a chance to examine plasma on their own. Mr. Thomas has also collaborated with the MIT Museum's Sunday science program, and is currently planning with them a series of winter talks inspired by Michael Faraday's Christmas lectures.

Mr. Thomas and Mr. Rivenberg were both recognized this year for their outreach efforts by Fusion Power Associates, a national organization devoted to informing the public about fusion development and applications of plasma science. They received special awards honoring their sustained efforts to educate students and the public about fusion and related technologies.

The PSFC continues to collaborate with other National laboratories on educational events. An annual Teacher's Day (to educate teachers about plasmas) and Open House (to which they can bring their students) has become tradition at each year's APS-DPP meeting. Mr. Rivenberg, Mr. Thomas and Ms. Valerie Censabella, Alcator Administrator, aided organizers of the 2001 education events in Long Beach, CA, which attracted about 100 teachers, and over 2000 students.  Here the PSFC unveiled an improved version of the C-Mod, Jr. video game, which teaches students how to confine a plasma in a tokamak. Mr. Thomas also brought with him a new, more portable plasma demonstration device. The education team continues to work on similar events scheduled for Orlando, Florida (APS-DPP meeting, fall 2002).

The PSFC continues to be involved with educational efforts sponsored by the Coalition for Plasma Science (CPS), a growing organization formed by members of universities and national laboratories to promote understanding of the field of plasma science. Associate Director Dr. Richard Temkin, who oversees PSFC education efforts, is working with this group on goals which include requesting support from Congress and funding agencies, strengthening appreciation of the plasma sciences by obtaining endorsements from industries involved in plasma applications, and addressing environmental concerns about plasma science, particularly fusion. Paul Rivenberg has continued his duties as editor of the Coalition's Plasma Page, a summary of plasma related news items of interest to the media. Mr. Rivenberg also heads a subcommittee that created and maintains a web site to help teachers bring the topic of plasma into their classrooms. Paul has also joined the Technical Materials subcommittee, where he oversees content and layout of two-page information sheets that introduce the layman to different areas of plasma science. He is aided by Ms. Mary Pat McNally, who provides support for all graphic projects.

Appointments and Promotions

During the past year, there have been a number of appointments and promotions in Plasma Science and Fusion Center program areas:


Alcator Division—Mr. Peter Koert was appointed an RF engineer and Mr. Michael DeMaria was appointed design engineer.

Physics Research Division—Dr. Ante Salcedo was appointed postdoctoral associate.

Fusion Engineering and Technology Division—Mr. Peter Titus was appointed senior mechanical engineer; Dr. Jun Feng was appointed research engineer; and Dr. Timothy Antaya was appointed senior project engineer.

Plasma Technology Division—Dr. Kamal Hadidi was appointed research scientist.

Internal Promotions

Physics Research Division—Dr. Johan Frenje was appointed research scientist.

Graduate Degrees

During the past year, the following departments granted students degrees with theses in plasma fusion and related areas:

Miklos Porkolab
Professor of Physics

More information about the Plasma Science and Fusion Center can be found on the web at


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