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ABOUT OUR RESEARCH

The Institute for Fusion Studies is a national center of excellence engaged in both theoretical and experimental research in a broad spectrum of topics within the field of plasma physics.

Theory Group: The theory group conducts research in theoretical plasma physics and fusion energy science, with studies of magnetic plasma confinement, basic plasma processes, and related issues. Particular emphasis is placed on fundamental issues of long-range significance. The theory research being pursued at IFS is diverse, including plasma macro-stability, plasma turbulence and anomalous transport, energetic particle physics, numerical simulations, plasma-boundary interactions, and nonlinear plasma dynamics.

Experimental Group: The experimental group pursues research in transport and turbulence in magnetically confined plasmas and develops instrumentation to support this research. In one major project, we conduct experiments on the D-IIID tokamak in San Diego to improve understanding of electron thermal transport, turbulence, effects of magnetic islands, and plasma absorption of radiofrequency waves. In a second project, the IFS is leading the US development of instrumentation for measurement of electron thermal energy in ITER, the international tokamak that will be the first device to produce net energy. Our research is ramping up at EAST, the world’s largest superconducting tokamak and located in Hefei, China where we are primarily concerned with electron energy transport and direct measurement of the current density profile, which is a critical confinement parameter. In all of these, we emphasize theory/experiment comparison and theory-motivated experiments. These projects offer numerous, excellent dissertation topics and opportunities for research assistantships. The experimental group cooperates closely with the theory group in research, seminars, course offerings, and administrative support.

The IFS also serves as a center for fusion science information exchange, nationally and internationally, by arranging visitor programs, courses, conferences, and workshops. As part of this effort, it is the principal site in the United States for the exchange activities of the US-Japan Joint Institute for Fusion Theory.

The IFS has an extensive academic program, involving student education (course work, seminars, thesis research) and postdoctoral training.

The present staff of the Institute comprises approximately 20 Ph.D. scientists (including physics faculty, research scientists, and postdoctoral fellows) and approximately 15 graduate students, in addition to computational staff and administrative personnel. The IFS actively supports numerous research collaborations with laboratories and universities in the US and other countries. IFS scientists regularly collaborate with other Physics Department faculty as well as scientists in other departments at the University.

 

FACULTY

Current Core Physics Faculty

  • Boris Breizman, Ph.D., Budker Institute of Nuclear Physics (BINP), 1971.

    Research Professor.

    Theoretical plasma physics.

  • Todd Ditmire, Ph.D., University of California, Davis, 1995.

    Professor of Physics | Director, Texas Center for High Energy-Density Science (CHEDS).

    Advanced Accelerator Concepts; Laser/Plasma Particle Acceleration and Interactions; Strong Field Quantum Field Physics; Advanced X-ray and Gamma-ray Radiation Sources; Experimental & Computational Relativistic Plasma and Particle Physics; Nuclear Physics; Ultrahigh Intensity Laser-Matter Interaction.

  • Michael W. Downer, Ph.D., Harvard University, 1983.

    Professorship in Physics #2 | Distinguished Teaching Professor.

    Atomic and molecular physics; atomic physics; femtosecond spectroscopy; condensed matter surfaces; high-field atomic and plasma physics.

  • Richard Fitzpatrick, Ph.D., University of Sussex, 1988.

    Professor of Physics | Associate Director, Institute for Fusion Studies (IFS).

    Chair, Graduate Recruitment Committee.

    Magnetic reconnection and gross plasma instabilities in fusion, terrestrial, and astrophysical contexts.

  • Kenneth W. Gentle, Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1962.

    Professor of Physics.

    Experimental plasma physics.

  • Richard D. Hazeltine, Ph.D., University of Michigan, 1968.

    Texas Atomic Energy Research Foundation Professor of Physics.

    Theoretical plasma physics.

  • Björn Manuel Hegelich, Ph.D., Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, 2002.

    Associate Professor of Physics.

    Laser-plasma simulations and strong field quantum field theory. Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics, Plasma and Fusion; interaction of ultra-intense electromagnetic fields with matter; high energy-density physics; laser particle acceleration.

  • Swadesh M. Mahajan, Ph.D., University of Maryland, College Park, 1973.

    Research Professor.

    Plasma theory.

  • Philip J. Morrison, Ph.D., University of California, San Diego, 1979.

    Texas Atomic Energy Research Foundation Professor of Physics.

    Plasma physics; mathematical physics; fluid dynamics; Hamiltonian dynamics; computational physics.

  • Anna Tenerani, Ph.D., Sorbonne Université / Università di Pisa, 2012.

    Assistant Professor of Physics.

    Plasma and Fusion. Plasma Physics and Space Physics; magnetic reconnection; turbulence in magnetized plasmas.

  • François L. Waelbroeck, Ph.D., The University of Texas at Austin, 1988.

    Research Professor.

    Director, Institute for Fusion Studies (IFS)

    Theoretical plasma physics; magnetic reconnection; magnetic islands; the effect of flows on MHD modes.

 

Professors in Other Departments

Emeritus and Retired Physics Faculty

  • Roger Bengtson, Ph.D., University of Maryland, 1968.

    Professor Emeritus of Physics

    Experimental plasma physics; atomic reactions in plasmas.

  • Herbert L. Berk, Ph.D., Princeton University, 1964.

    Professor Emeritus of Physics

    Theoretical plasma physics; computer simulation of plasmas.

  • W.E. Drummond, Ph.D., Stanford University, 1958.

    Professor Emeritus of Physics

    Theoretical plasma physics.

  • C. Wendell Horton, Jr., Ph.D., University of California, San Diego, 1967.

    Professor Emeritus of Physics

    Theoretical plasma physics.

  • M.E. Oakes, Ph.D., University of Florida, 1964.

    Professor Emeritus of Physics

    Theoretical and experimental studies of wave propagation in plasmas.

 

SELECTED RECENT PUBLICATIONS (last two years)

 

RELEVANT RESEARCH CENTER(S) AT UT AUSTIN

 

MAJOR COLLABORATIONS (if applicable)