This award provides funding for the Basic Plasma Science Facility (BaPSF) at the University of California, Los Angeles. The purpose of BaPSF is to provide the general plasma community access to a frontier level research device (the LAPD-U) that permits the exploration of fundamental plasma problems that cannot be pursued in small devices or in the large fusion facilities. Qualified researchers from universities, national laboratories and industry can perform experiments, free of charge, upon approval of their proposals by a Scientific Council composed of senior scientists broadly representative of the plasma community. The plasmas and equipment available at BaPSF allow the detailed study, under controlled conditions, of processes involving a wide range of spatial and temporal scales. The studies at BaPSF address contemporary topics at the frontier of basic plasma, space and fusion science research. The studies span microscopic phenomena on the fast electron time scales (e.g, electron plasma waves, cyclotron radiation) to the slow transport scales characteristic of drift-wave turbulence and long wavelength magnetic fluctuations. New thrusts include plans to coordinate and implement new community-driven campaigns in research areas of major impact to fusion and space researchers and a theory driven mode. The major campaigns will be led by a scientist from outside UCLA who will organize and steer the experimental campaign with assistance from the BaPSF staff. The theory driven mode is designed to satisfy the pressing need for detailed data to benchmark major results of the theoretical and modeling communities. These experiments will involve collaborations between scientists from the theoretical and modeling community and an experimentalist from the BaPSF staff.

Project Report

The Basic Plasma Science Facility (BaPSF) serves the experimental and theoretical plasma physics community by opening up the Large Plasma Device (LAPD), at UCLA for collaborations. The 18 m long 60 cm diameter magnetized plasma is unique. The plasma is pulsed on once a second and operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The BaPSF plasma devices provide effective platforms for the training of graduate students because of their optimum, mid-scale size. The devices and diagnostic tools available at the BaPSF are sufficiently large and sophisticated so as to provide exposure to frontier developments that require learning to work in a team environment. These are valuable experiences not commonly available to graduate students in small, single-PI laboratories. Yet, the size of the BaPSF operation is small enough for students to obtain individual hands-on experience not available at facilities with large fusion devices. Over the past funding cycle, 11 students have earned Ph.D.s based on work performed at the BaPSF, and 3 have completed M.S. degrees In the past five years user s of the device were: T. Carter (UCLA)1) W. Heidbrink (University of California, Irvine); C. Niemann (UCLA); C. Kletzing (University of Iowa),C. Cattell (University of Minnesota); J. Bortnik (UCLA/LANL); A. Strelsov (Dartmouth College); L. J. Chen (University of New Hampshire; S. Boldyrev (University of Wisconsin); J. Chen (Naval Research Laboratory)., W. Heidbrink (University of California, Irvine );M. Koepke (West Virginia Univ.); "Radiation-belt Physics Campaign", D. Papadopoulos (University of Maryland); , D. D’Ippolito (Lodestar Research), J. Myra (MIT). The group that built and runs the device (W. Gekelman,G. Moralse, J. Maggs. S. Vincena, P. Pribyl, B. Van Compernolle, S. Tripathi) has done a good deal of additional research as well as collaborating with the external users. Topics studied were plasma edge turbulence and transport, nonlinear electron structures (holes) in a plasma, particle scattering by whistler and Alfven waves, studies relevant to the Earth;s aurora and solar corona, the scattering of energetic ions by plasma waves and turbulence, propagation of non-linear pulses in plasmas, absorption of high power microwaves, interaction of dense plasmas produced by lasers with a background plasma, the dynamics of "magnetic ropes", transport of heat across strong magnetic fields and waves when more than one ion species is present. To illustrate the type of data one can acquire we present the example of a set of experiments that have revealed three dimensional magnetic field line reconnection triggered when a dense plasma expands in to background magnetized plasma. Reconnection is a processes that can convert the energy in magnetic field to energized particles and flows. This unique, highly reproducible experiment will lead to a deeper understanding of the phenomena of magnetic field line reconnection. Reconnection is one of the main candidates to explain thehigh temperature of the solar corona (The corona is one million degrees C while the surface of the sun only 8000). It also has been observed by satellites in the plasma that surrounds the earth and has fundamental importance in a host of astrophysical processes. This experiment has made possible the study of fully 3D reconnection in a terrestrial laboratory. The figure blow is a analglyph (you need red/blue glasses to see it properly) of measured three dimensional magnetic fields in a plasma undergoing reconnection. The LAPD plasma is highly reproducible and this experiment ran for 21/2 weeks round the clock to acquire this data set. The BaPSF has been very successful and was renewed for five more years of operation (starting Jan 1, 2011) by NSF/DOE who co-sponsor its operations with a collaborative research award. Over the past (five year) funding cycle these studies at the facility have resulted in 58 reviewed publications and 39 invited presentations. Currently there are 17 graduate students involved with the facility. In the past 5 years 18 advanced degrees (PhD and MS) have been awarded for work done at the facility. The facility also sponsors an outreach effort for high schools community college students which has been in effect for 14 years. LAPTAG (Los Angeles Physics Teachers Alliance Group). Laptag has a small plasma device and high school students that work on it (it is open to everybody) have attended scientific meetings and published in a referred scientific journal. At the November 2010 APS-DPP meeting the BaPSF director, Walter Gekelman, presented the first topical talk in 3D using a professional cinema digital projector an 3D glasses. About 2000 scientists attended the event. The presentation was funded, in part, by the NSF.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Physics (PHY)
Cooperative Agreement (Coop)
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Program Officer
Steven J Gitomer
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University of California Los Angeles
Los Angeles
United States
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