Fusion is the process that powers the sun
and the stars. Controlled thermonuclear fusion on earth requires
temperatures of 100 million degrees or more, sufficient to ionize electrons
from their nucleus and to form an ionized gas or plasma.
Magnetic confinement fusion uses magnetic
fields to hold a plasma in place while it is
heated to ignition temperature by external sources. An artists' drawing of
a tokamak, the leading candidate for a magnetic
confinement fusion device, is shown to the right (illustration courtesy of HowStuffWorks).
The thrust of the UC Davis Plasma Diagnostic Group (PDG) is the
development of advanced millimeter-wave plasma diagnostic instruments and
techniques on relevant magnetic fusion devices, and obtaining important
physics results with these diagnostics. A further important mission is the
training of the next generation of plasma physicists and engineers. In this
regard, UCD is extremely fortunate to have available perhaps the most
extensive microwave, millimeter-wave, and submillimeter-wave
equipment collection available anywhere, and has been designated a Center
of Excellence in high power microwave/millimeter-wave sources. Further
capabilities are provided by extensive collaborations with fusion
researchers and millimeter-wave technology researchers worldwide.