Sophia Rocco heads to LLNL

Sophia will be working in Andrea Schmidt’s group, which is in the National Security Engineering Division of the Engineering Directorate. Sophia will be working on diagnostics (primarily neutron diagnostics, as well as potentially Thomson scattering and spectroscopy) for a dense plasma focus (DPF) on the pulsed-power machine MJOLNIR. The DPF is being developed as a source for neutron radiography. Congratulations Sophia!

LPS Plasma Physics Reading Club

LPS Graduate Students create a Plasma Physics Reading Club. Each week a student volunteers to lead a discussion on a plasma physics related article (or textbook sections) of his or her choice. We hope to promote scholarship and exchange of ideas in plasma physics and also just catch up on what others have been working on in the lab. Exampls so far since the club was established are;

Field reversed configurations (review article by Tuszewski)

Thomson scattering (sections in Principles of Plasma Diagnostics textbook)

Plasma transport  (review article by Braginskii)

Axial magnetic flux separation (paper by Prof. Charles Seyler – full title: Axial magnetic flux amplification in Hall-magnetohydrodynamic simulations of externally magnetized z-pinches)

Ahmed Elshafiey working on the XP machine

Ahmed is in the process of loading the XP machine with the Hybrid X-pinch electrodes. The current work is focused on time resolved source size measurement under high magnification using a fast sweep streak camera.

E. Sander Lavine working on Thompson Scattering

Sander is working to fully characterize the imploding plasma sheath in triple nozzle gas-puff z-pinches using Thompson scattering, Zeeman polarization spectroscopy, laser shearing interferometry, and Bdot probe array measurements. Such measurements will be extremely useful for validating simulation codes and should help to explain the different instability growth rates that have been observed for different gas species and initial fill densities.

Euan Freeman attends PPPL Graduate Summer School virtually

Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory Graduate Summer School

They welcomed students from a broad range of fields: magnetic fusion energy sciences, high energy density plasmas, astrophysics, low temperature plasmas, materials science, etc. Euan attended 4 lectures each of mini-courses on Turbulence, Computational Plasma Physics, and Low Temperature Plasmas, presented at a graduate poster session, attended an undergraduate poster session, and had a graduate plasma student networking session.

Chiatai Chen shares photo of XUV Emission

XUV emission of an exploding 25 μm diameter copper wire connected in series to two magnetic field coils on the two ends driven by a COBRA current pulse. This shot is a part of a study on the dynamics of the wire plasma in a magnetic mirror configuration

ECE Fusion Researcher Sophia Rocco Educates Members of Congress

Fusion Day on the Hill is science advocacy event aimed at educating Members of Congress about the state of fusion research throughout the country.

Last month, Cornell partnered with the University of Rochester and New York University to visit the New York delegation. Cornell was represented by Sophia Rocco, Ph.D. student in the Laboratory of Plasma Studies.

“Professors, researchers, students and representatives from start-ups come together in Washington, D.C.,” Rocco explained, “to meet with policymakers and get them excited about the importance of fusion energy and how vital it will be to the energy security of the planet.”

Specifically, they asked for a $715 million increase to the budget of the Office of Fusion Energy Science (FES), a branch of the Department of Energy. While over the past three years that budget has been steadily increased, the current proposed national budget slashes the FES allocation by 30%.

“The best thing we can bring is our enthusiasm for our research and our excitement about fusion energy,” Rocco said.

Cornell’s Office of Federal Relations coordinated Rocco’s meetings with policymakers, including the offices of Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY-20), Rep. Joe Morelle (D-NY-25), Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY-23), Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY-06), Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY).

“Everyone was very enthusiastic to speak with us,” Rocco said. “They had lots of questions about the research being done at each of the universities.” The hope was to get Members of Congress to sign a letter asking for the increased fusion budget.

Rocco came away from the day feeling very optimistic about both the impact the group made and the state of fusion energy research as it is today. Fusion energy start-ups have been attracting more investors in recent years, and along with the research being done, fusion is finally getting the kind of resources it needs to be successful.

ZNetUS Workshop

David Hammer and E. Sander Lavine attend first ZNet Workshop


  • Pulsed power technology
  • Magneto inertial fusion
  • Astrophysical plasmas and planetary science
  • Mid scale User Facility
  • MHD and hybrid codes development
  • Magnetized high-energy density plasmas
  • Student training opportunities

Graduate Students spend 2 days at the Laboratory of Laser Energetics at UofR

LPS graduate students Jacob Banasek and Sophia Rocco attended a two-day International Workshop on Optical Thomson Scattering hosted by the University of Rochester at the Laboratory of Laser Energetics (LLE). Participants shared recent advancements in diagnostic development at their various institutions, the labs of which span a large range of interesting plasma conditions, from picosecond laser-produced plasmas to the nanosecond-scale pulsed-power plasmas at Cornell. Jacob and Sophia both presented talks on their work in developing the Thomson scattering diagnostic in use at Cornell (“Thomson scattering on Laboratory Plasma Jets to Study Current Polarity Effects” and “Thomson scattering as a tool for differentiating sources of spatial velocity distributions in gas-puff z-pinches,” respectively). The collective expertise in the room was incredible, and Cornell came away with some new perspectives and fresh ideas about how to approach both Thomson collection and analysis in improved ways.