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SSX seeks new post doc for ALPHA work

Job Description

Diagram of plasma flow for SSX

SSX among awards of ARPA-E funding through the ALPHA project tackling fusion

ARPA-E (Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy) has made over $30 million available for research grants in alternative fusion research through a program called ALPHA (Accelerating Low Cost Plasma Heating and Assembly). Swarthmore has received a contract from this agency to study the prospects of a twisted Taylor state as a target for a fusion energy reactor. While the turbulent evolution of the Taylor state has been a recent focus of the SSX lab, this new project will explore the compression properties of this spring-like magnetized plasma. The contract will run for three years and allow the construction of four pulse power circuits and eight copper coils. This equipment will allow the plasma produced in SSX to be very strongly pushed or compressed. SSX is among nine projects to have received funding from ARPA-E for the ALPHA effort. The full description for the SSX project is below. See the announcement and list of funded teams.


Swarthmore College – Swarthmore, PA Plasma Accelerator on the Swarthmore Spheromak Experiment- $493,238

Swarthmore College, in collaboration with Bryn Mawr College, will design, develop, and test two flexible, low cost plasma acceleration modules on the Swarthmore Spheromak Experiment (SSX). These modules will accelerate non-axisymmetric magnetized plasma plumes, formed by allowing a spheromak plasma to evolve in a large aspect ratio cylindrical chamber. Accelerating and colliding these plumes at high speeds and densities may enable the formation of a new kind of plasma target for magnetized target fusion. The SSX experiments offer a high rate of low-cost experimentation and a mature diagnostic suite, which will enable rapid progress in understanding these plasma plumes and illuminate their potential as new targets in the ALPHA program.


Chart of Physics behind Stormy Space WeatherNew Insights into the Physics behind Stormy Space Weather that can Create Havoc on Earth 

Earthly experiments are helping scientists probe the physics of plasma in space.

APS-DPP Press Release [pdf]


Buzz Feature: Prof. Brown Gives Turbulence Tutorial at APS-DPP 2014

Prof. Brown Gives Turbulence Tutorial at APS-DPP 2014

At the American Physical Society Division of Plasma Physics conference (APS-DPP) this year, Professor Brown gave a tutorial talk on turbulence titled "MHD Turbulence: Observation and Experiment." The talk, which was attended by about 150 other plasma physicists from around the country, gave an overview of basic turbulence theory, then discussed four particular metrics used to analyze turbulence and specifically how these metrics are used on SSX. The talk incorporated research conducted by Swarthmore undergraduates Adrian Wan '15 and Peter Weck '15.

See the pdf version of the talk here.

Buzz Feature: Peter Weck '15 Presents Poster at APS-DPP 2014

Peter Weck '15 Presents Poster at APS-DPP 2014

Peter Weck '15 presented his research at the APS DPP meeting in New Orleans during the undergraduate poster session. Peter's work focuses on a relatively new turbulence analysis technique that looks at the permutation entropy and statistical complexity of a time series signal. See Peter's poster here.

Buzz Feature Vandervelde-Cheng Scholar 2014 - Emily Hudson

Emily Hudson '17 Named a Vandervelde-Cheng Scholar

Emily Hudson '17 was named a Vandervelde-Cheng Scholar for the summer of 2014. The Vandervelde-Cheng Scholarship supports summer physics research for Swarthmore undergrads. Emily's work this summer focused on studying the velocity of plasma plumes down the MHD wind tunnel on SSX. She presented her work at the Sigma Xi exhibition in the Science Commons.

Buzz Feature: SSX in APS-DPP Press Release

SSX among experiments profiled in APS-DPP press release

The field of plasma astrophysics is explored in various laboratory settings including MRX at Princeton, LAPD at UCLA, the dipole experiment at Columbia University and SSX at Swarthmore.

See press release here.

Buzz Feature: Grappling with the Unknown

SSX hits Swarthmore front page

Undergraduates Peter Weck and Adrian Wan are interviewed about research and publishing on the SSX in this news feature from the Swarthmore front page.

Grappling with the Unknown

Buzz Feature: Laboratory Astrophysics on Physics Central

Solar Winds and Hot Plasma Experiments

Turbulence research on SSX was recently profiled on the Physics Buzz blog along with experiments from UCLA and Princeton. All three research areas fall under the umbrella of laboratory astrophysics. The blog post includes a podcast with interviews of David Schaffner, Seth Dorfman (UCLA) and Masaaki Yamada (Princeton).

Physics Central Physics Buzz

Buzz Feature: Two new papers accepted to start 2015

Two Papers Accepted to Start the New Year

Two papers, "Permutation entropy and statistical complexity analysis of turbulence in laboratory plasmas and the solar wind" written by Peter Weck '15 and "Magnetohydrodynamic Turbulence: Observation and Experiment" by Michael Brown have been accepted January 2015 for publication in Physical Review E and Physics of Plasma respectively. The first is Peter's first publication and also represents the SSX lab's first foray into both information theory analysis as well as the use of solar wind data. Mike's paper stems from his Invited Tutorial from APS-DPP 2014 and comprises a tutorial on turbulence analysis techniques using a single time series from the WIND satellite in the solar wind. Online versions will be available as soon as they are published.

SSX Buzz Archive