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The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science included four papers from the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory in a collection of its most influential scientific papers of the past 40 years. The collection, entitled “40 Years of Research Milestones,” celebrates the fortieth anniversary of the DOE’s Office of Science.

The Office of Science described itself in an official statement as “the nation’s largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences and the home of groundbreaking work in the biological and earth sciences.”

“For 40 years, the Department of Energy Office of Science has been supporting basic research to tackle big questions,” James Van Dam, associate director of the Office of Fusion Energy Sciences, said.

The DOE’s Office of Science manages PPPL, a research institution focused on the physics of plasmas and fusion energy. PPPL is located on the University’s Forrestal Campus. 

Of the forty papers in “40 Years of Research Milestones,” two are PPPL studies. One is from research conducted at the DIII-D National Fusion Facility, which collaborates with PPPL, and one is authored by Dr. Nat Fisch, professor of astrophysical sciences at the University and associate director for academic affairs at PPPL.

In 1978, Dr. Fisch drew on his doctoral dissertation to suggest the usage of radio frequency waves in order to maintain the electrical current that creates helical magnetic fields in plasma-storing tokamaks.

Then, in 1989, the Princeton Beta Experiment at PPPL showed how to measure that same helical magnetic field by interpreting the photons emitted by atoms injected into the plasma.

In 1990, physicists at the DIII-D National Fusion Facility discovered how to shear the flow of plasma in order to reduce turbulence and facilitate fusion.

Finally, in 1994, PPPL used a mix of deuterium and tritium, two isotopes of hydrogen, to produce record amounts of fusion power.

According to Van Dam, the papers were selected for their impact on science in general and are representative of the “world-class research supported by DOE.”

In a press release, Dr. Michael Zarnstorff, deputy director of research at the PPPL, stated that the PPPL papers illustrate the progress made in fusion energy and plasma physics study in the DOE program.

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