High Energy Density Plasma Physics, Electromagnetics
Electromagnetics involves a variety of applications of electromagnetic wave propagation and other time-varying phenomena in the presence of electric and magnetic fields.
Plasma science involves the interaction of large numbers of charged particles with electric and magnetic fields in a variety of configurations ranging from the surface of the sun to the interior of fluorescent electric light bulbs.
At Cornell, we specialize in High Energy Density Laboratory Plasma (HEDLP) research, in which the product of the density of the ionized matter (plasma) and its temperature (more than a million degrees C) that it exceeds the ability to of any material to confine it even for a tiny fraction of a second. An example of a high energy density plasma is the center of the sun, where the plasma is 15 million degrees kelvin, the density is 1000 times the density of normal matter on earth, and gravity is the confinement method. In our laboratories, we use pulsed power generators to produce very large currents – 300,000-1,000,000 amperes – to produce hot plasmas and then we use the high magnetic fields produced by the currents to confine the plasmas far away from material walls. This enables us to study the properties of 1-25 million degree high density plasmas for times up to 0.1 microsecond using many different measurement techniques. Applications of our experimental, theoretical and computer simulation results include possible approaches to fusion reactors and understanding high energy astronomical observations.
The Laboratory of Plasma Studies: Uncovering mysteries of high energy density plasma physics
In the basement of Grumman Hall, an x-ray pulse produced by a hot, dense plasma – an ionized gas – lasting only fractions of a microsecond both begins and ends an experiment. Hidden within that fraction of time lies a piece of a puzzle—data that graduate students and staff scientists at the Laboratory of Plasma Studies (LPS) will use to better understand the mysterious physics behind inertial confinement fusion.
Sophia Rocco: Hoping to make the world a better place through a potential renewable energy source
When she was looking at graduate schools, physics major Sophia Rocco thought she would be in a materials science program bridging her interests in electricity and magnetism and novel materials for solar cells. Chancing upon the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Cornell, she discovered the Laboratory of Plasma Studies (LPS).
Finding the Ultimate Energy Source: Cornell’s Lab of Plasma Studies
Plasma is one of the four fundamental states of matter, but it does not exist freely on the Earth’s surface. It must be artificially generated by heating or subjecting a neutral gas to a strong electromagnetic field. Located in the basement of Grumman Hall are two large pulse-power generators that create plasma by delivering extremely high currents to ordinary matter for short periods. These generators are part of the Lab of Plasma Studies at Cornell University.
Photo credit: Dave Burbank