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.

Undergraduate Paul Beck works in the LPS lab for the Summer of 2019

Over the Summer Paul worked with Dr. Sander Lavine and Professor Bruce Kusse to design a capacitor bank. The capacitor bank will deliver strong axial magnetic fields via a Helmholtz coil during the plasma Z pinch. This effect can be used in multifarious experiments to explore different properties of plasma.

Paul used SOLIDWORKS to finish modeling the capacitor layout, current path, bank housing, and physical framing of the capacitor bank. Then explored circuit simulators which helped estimate the circuit’s transient response, aiding the diode selection process. The diode stack is necessary in order to stultify voltage reversal on the capacitors; any significant voltage reversal could damage or even destroy them. He then advised a main cable for the capacitor bank to conduct the pulse, and confirmed it could handle the high current and voltage at the given frequency of the circuit.

Currently, Paul is investigating the proposed snubber circuit and what components would be sufficient for its proper functioning.

Undergraduate Jake Lawson’s Summer 2019 work in the LPS Lab

This summer he has been working with Dr. Sander Levine and Professor Bruce Kusse investigating why PLIF is not consistent day to day and coming up with a solution to improve the reproducibility and accuracy of PLIF. This has led him to develop a new calibration method for calibrating gas puff data from PLIF.

PLIF data is used to understand the data that comes out of COBRA, so for COBRA to be accurate the PLIF data must be accurate.

Euan Freeman interns at LPS Summer 2019

Euan graduated from the University of Evansville (’19) and is at LPS this summer studying plasma spectroscopy in order to be able to perform visible light spectroscopy experiments, and assisting senior researchers and graduate students with their work in order to learn how to run experiments on COBRA. Euan will join Cornell as a graduate student Fall 2019.