Physicist Steven Sabbagh granted funding for plasma stability research aimed at disruption prediction and avoidance on leading international spherical tokamak

Preventing disruptions in tokamak plasmas that can halt fusion reactions and damage the interior walls of future devices is a top priority of the U.S. magnetic fusion program. Future fusion reactors must operate without disruptions for lengthy periods of time.

Steven Sabbagh, a senior research scientist and adjunct professor in the Department of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics on long-term assignment to the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), has been recently granted a multi-year research project on the Mega Amp Spherical Tokamak - Upgrade (MAST-U) facility at the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE). The three-year, $2M research collaboration will directly address plasma stability analysis and modeling that support disruption prediction and avoidance in tokamaks by uniquely leveraging the low aspect ratio, high elongation, high beta, flexible heating, and 3D coil capabilities of MAST-U. The low aspect ratio of the MAST-U device takes advantage of improved stability afforded by favorable alteration of the magnetic field geometry due to its compact design. Dr. Sabbagh will be joined by APAM senior research scientists Jack Berkery and James Bialek, and APAM associate research scientist Young-Seok Park, together with a post-doctoral research scientist.

Dr. Sabbagh is also lead principal investigator for a multi-institutional international project between Columbia U., the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, and MIT to study the stability and active control of plasmas in the long-pulse Korea Superconducting Tokamak Advanced Research (KSTAR) facility located in Daejeon, South Korea.

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