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Cornell University

Laboratory of Plasma Studies

Understanding characteristics of plasmas, from microscopic to macroscopic scales

Spring 2023 Colloquium on Plasma Science & Applications

March 9

Explosive Instability­­—a problem for fusion power

Steve Cowley, Director, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

Location: 700 Clark Hall

Fusion reactors will store considerable energy—often gigaojoules. Rapid release of this energy can damage key components. I will show that, unfortunately, plasma pressure can often be limited by explosive instability. I will also explore when such instabilities are benign and damaging. Data on explosive ressure driven instabilities will be shown.

March 30

Reflections on decades of progress in pulsed-power-driven high-energy-density science

Keith Matzen, Sandia National Laboratories Fellow, Advanced Science & Technology Division

Location: 700 Clark Hall

Over the past four decades, the Pulsed Power Sciences program at Sandia National Laboratories has progressed from the challenge of delivering a few million Amperes of current to gas-puff z pinches to reliably and reproducibly delivering 20-30 million Amperes to a wide variety of experimental platforms that push the frontiers of high-energy-density (HED) science in the following areas: Magnetized and Inertial Confinement Fusion (MIF/ICF), Radiation Effects Science (RES), Dynamic Material Properties (DMP), and fundamental astrophysics. This fascinating journey combined theory, simulations, and experiments coupled with new diagnostic and target fabrication development to provide a strong foundation that is likely to yield surprising and impactful scientific discoveries for decades to come.

April 13

Advances in Direct-Drive Fusion, High-Energy-Density Physics, and Laser Technologies

Christopher Deeney, Director of the Laboratory for Laser Energetics

Location: 401 Physical Sciences Building

The last five years have seen remarkable advances in the four key missions at the Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE): fusion, high-energy-density physics (HEDP), laser technology, and education. This talk will highlight progress in the LLE program and pioneering achievements, many of which are led by our excellent graduate students. The recent achievement of target gain >1 at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) proves the physics of hotspot ignition, while the research on directly driven implosions on the 30-kJ Omega Laser Facility is showing the promise of coupling significant energy to capsules by mitigating laser plasma instabilities. We are also developing a fourth-generation laser prototype, FLUX, to demonstrate that enhanced bandwidth does provide the required mitigation. Achievements in inertial confinement fusion and HEDP are enabled through detailed experiments, new diagnostics, fundamental understanding of laser-plasma interactions and precision control of pulse shapes.


Watch a video of Chris Deeney’s presentation below:


May 4

How Ignition and Target Gain > 1 Was Achieved in Inertial Fusion

Omar Hurricane, Chief Scientist for the Inertial Confinement Fusion Program; Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Location: 700 Clark Hall

For many decades the running joke in fusion research has been that “fusion” is twenty years away and always will be. Yet, this year we find ourselves in a position where we can talk about the milestones of burning plasmas, fusion ignition, and target energy gain greater than unity in the past tense—a situation that is remarkable! In this talk, we tell the story of the applied physics challenges that needed to be overcome to achieve these milestones and the strategy our team followed. To help understand the story, several key physics principles of inertial fusion will be presented, and I will try and dispel any confusion about what the terms burning, ignition, and gain mean in the context of inertial fusion research.